Islamic Extremism Part 1

This hot-button topic is an issue close to my heart for several reasons, and I feel should be studied by Christians, though it is difficult  for westerners to get their arms around. I am not a historian, I am a Biblicist, and a writer, so there isn’t any historical expertise that I can add to the already dense volumes of geopolitical commentary that exist. But today we will take a look at the strained relationship between Islam and Israel, and try to determine a Christian mindset in regards to the matter. Antisemitism seems rampant as of late, and springs up furiously, without warning far too often. The bible does say,

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs [along with Israelites] according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26–29

and

” But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,  do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.  Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”  That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” – Romans 11: 17-21

and of course, the well known

“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:3

We as Christians are grafted into the root of Israel as believers. It is interesting to note that the olive tree does very well taking grafts and incorporating them into the original plant. In this way we are heirs of what was promised to Israel, to Abraham. Not only this, but in studying and revering God’s word, we would be remiss to not acknowledge that these scriptures we hold so dear, both Old and New Testament, were delivered to us from the Holy Spirit through His chosen people. Israel, its profits, and apostles are the very people God used to write the Bible and love the world. The reverence we should have for that alone is beyond measure, in my thinking.

Now, these articles are not political in nature, though often, political actions very much have theological implications. That being said, it is evident to anyone paying attention that the current administration of the West, along with the actions of the U.N. have as of late been extremely biased against Israel. There are 193 countries that belong to the United Nations, and time and time again, despite Israel’s democratic processes, free press, women’s rights,  food innovations, incorporation of other cultures besides Judaism (one fifth of Israel is Muslim), and a military that goes to lengths beyond any the world has known to prevent unnecessary deaths while acting in its defense, Israel is continually reported on as an offender of human freedom. Reported on 5 times more than Syria, 16 times more than Iran, and when compared to China, and their denying of basic freedoms to over 1 billion people, China has never been reported on once by the U.N.

The U.S.A. sends $440 million  to the Palestinian Authority Unity Government, which includes Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two state sponsored terrorist organizations, and who broadcast on television and radio how Allah wants the Jews to be killed, a typical broadcast in that area.

And in the midst of all this, we have bad people on both sides, as war tends to bring out aggression, the worst of people, and creates a basis for rationalizing violence. I don’t think anyone, even Israel herself, would deny that atrocities occur from there citizens too, and not just Palestinians.

So let us look at one. A Jewish extremist group kidnapped and murdered a Palestinian boy recently. It was in the papers. The reaction of the citizens of Israel was telling, as they were mortified that this injustice happened. No one is vying to name streets after this group. They are to be rounded up and prosecuted for their crimes to the fullest extent of the law. Some have already been arrested as the horrified Jewish citizens looked on.

As a reaction, a Palestinian group kidnapped and killed three Jewish boys. The reaction was telling. Hamas celebrated the heroes who committed the crime. They ran ads in their paper with pictures of the three boys, and called them rats that had been exterminated. The crowds cheered at the murders.

We fund them.

Not just in the Middle East, but in various places in the western world, college campuses, New York streets, on line, mentioning Israel as our democratic ally, supporting their defense, and loving them as brothers under the one true creator God, garners a caustic backlash of hate, a deep-seeded anger, and is often followed with shouts of ridicule such as “%&$@ Israel!”

But Israel does not practice convert-or-kill policies. They do not stand behind the mantra of “No Recognition, No negotiations, and No Peace” from the 1967 Sudanese meeting. The motto of Hamas is, “We love death as much as the Jews love life.” In Mosul, in July 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group gave Mosul’s Christians 48 hours to decide to flee or die. As a method of governance, Homosexuals are beheaded, hanged and stoned in modern Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Muhammad’s laws are applied most strictly.

I do not pretend that all Muslims are violent. In fact, I have a great love for the Muslim people, and wish greatly for their conversion to Christianity, and the one true savior, Jesus Christ. This is happening in great numbers, by the way, despite the constant threats of violence. But the world’s hate towards Israel, I will continue to not understand. It is so obviously misplaced, overreaching, and pervasive, I have to wonder if  this is not due to spiritual forces, rather than any intellectual argument. But as a Christian, I will continue to speak on their behalf, in love, and continue to stand with Israel and the Jewish nation, for whom I have a tremendous love and respect. If I am hated by my friends and acquaintances for this, then so be it.

___________

UPDATE: At the zero hour of his departure from the White House, it was discovered that Obama funneled an additional 221 million to Palestinian Authorities as he was leaving, furthering the support of known terrorist supporters. A global survey of Muslims by the Pew Research Center has found that Palestinian Arab Muslims polled the highest in favor of suicide bombings as a justifiable means “to defend Islam.” The poll also found that 89 percent of Palestinian Muslims favored sharia becoming “the official law of the land.”

While women in the U.S. lament his departure, praise his actions for civil rights, and march in the streets for the cause of women, he has chosen to further fund the oppression of Muslim women. Irony abounds.

Islamic Extremism Part 2

Islamic Extremism Part 3

Islamic Extremism Part 4

 

 

Introduction- The Last Saint

the-last-saint      The off-duty soldier finished the note, quickly shoving it
between the pages of a diary. A true paper journal, not
the holographic Sky-pad that left nothing sacred. Walking from the coffee shop, he noticed the pursuers for the second time
that day. When coupled with the recurring presence of the drone,
just a shimmer in the sky, it was obvious that this was not
random. Though he exemplified a casual stroll, his heart raced
nonetheless. Gaining distance without being conspicuous wasn’t
easy. They looked so strange, he thought. They were singularly
focused on him. They chose not to break cover in the crowd,
showing some semblance of logic and restraint, however
anything longer than a glance would prove that the twisted
creatures following Lincoln were not mere commuters. The
sporadic, twitchy movements and dead eyes challenged the
camouflage of normalcy. These two were off.
He slipped into the local post office. Waiting in line was a
toe-tapping, knuckle-cracking nightmare; each second felt like
days, but at least there was cover. He kept checking the
windows—glancing, watching for their status to change. Yet the
two followers were content to mill around outside and not draw
attention as they surveilled the building. Lincoln wondered what
type of confrontation they had in mind. If this was base he’d have
a 10 mm XM17 on his hip, and if running an op, full tactical gear,
Armor Survivability Kit, and Rail Rifle. But protocol in Jerusalem
during peacetime dictated foreign soldiers be unarmed within
the city. All that was left, then, was a mind no longer trustworthy.
The world had come loose from its moorings. Was the beginning
of the end imminent? The book had conjecture, yes. Supposition,
even. But it couldn’t possibly be the upstart this attention
suggested, could it? Unless he was onto something, and the diary
was striking too close to the truth for the powers that be to
ignore. The sluggish line finally ended at a counter where he
forced the diary into an envelope. Addressed to his wife, Olivia, it
T he off-duty soldier finished the note, quickly shoving it
between the pages of a diary. A true paper journal, not
the holographic Sky-pad that left nothing sacred. Walking
would ship out to their small condo in the states. She would not
understand it.

Olivia never believed as Lincoln did. He would come home
from church or from a class and start pouring out facts and bits
of trivia, only to see his wife’s eyes glaze over as if to say, “Here
he goes again.” She would almost roll them, but after many years
of eye rolls and witnessing the disappointment that followed, a
practiced gaze of empathy had been perfected. They found this
city, and uncovered that temple, and it all fits with the Bible… he
would explain, with Olivia counting down the seconds until
Lincoln jacked into the home’s office-hub to pour it all into his
book—his diary. The end of these enthusiastic monologues were
always met with a great sigh. Now, after seven years of marriage
broken up by three military tours, there was palpable spiritual
distance between the two. To feel emotional oneness and
physical compatibility only to be denied the spiritual closeness
he yearned for was frustrating. But he did love her. They kept
putting off the possibility of kids. She didn’t want to force God on
a child. Instead, did a child not deserve to grow up without the
mindset of the parents? To be free to think as he or she pleases?
Lincoln, conversely, passed all of his views and opinions through
a biblical filter, and there was no separating them. As time went
on, they had found it tougher to joke and be playful; tougher to
make financial decisions; tougher to agree on the social issues of
the day. Olivia always considered the Bible just a bunch of
stories, and it was baffling to her how an intelligent man like
Lincoln could buy into such ludicrous tales. But he was in love
with a fantasy, so she chose to navigate around it as if it were
merely an obsessive hobby. But it was changing him. Changing
them. There was enmity now, an invisible chasm that neither
could stitch together.

He practically flung the diary at the open mouth of the
mail-bot when departing the post office. The two unusual men
wasted no time reestablishing the tail, following Lincoln north
into the marketplace. They did a decent job blending with the
crowd, but their intensity escalated proportionately with
Lincoln’s speed. And adrenaline will certainly quicken the feet.

“I need my pistol.” As he spoke the words aloud, the gravity
of the situation bubbled over into fear. Deciding it was time to
take the chance, he blasted into a run like a bolt from a crossbow,
ducking through the shopkeepers’ alleyways and corridors. The
tail followed suit, and between breaths he heard their snarling.
Those wet, grotesque mouths. And did they file their teeth? Why
are they so pale? Another joined the chase, forcing the footrace
into a sprint that slipped past clothes racks and knocked over the
local street vendors’ food pyramids. The pretense was fully shed.
They were coming.

The army reserves had inspired an athleticism in Lincoln
that never left. So many miles logged—both running and
marching—so many iron plates lifted. He and Olivia excelled in
physical fitness and agility. On the spiritual battlefield things
weren’t always eye to eye, but their training had always been
magical. Olivia ran and kick boxed; Lincoln preferred climbing
and cycling. When they’d lift weights together, the healthy
competition was fierce. So, why were these pursuers gaining? He
was fit, strong, and able to perform at a moment’s notice. How
were these pale, wheezing figures closing ground? Digging for
every iota of physical prowess created no extra space. All speed
and screaming, like rabid animals, the creatures hurdled the
same carts and threaded the same lines of bystanders. Their
body types were not fit, but after blocks of running, none tired,
save Lincoln. And through it all, they howled the whole way.

Tight corridors in this sprawling mess of an ancient city
were almost impossible to navigate, even if one wasn’t in a
panicked dead run. For Lincoln, the decision to cut left down an
alley proved the last one he would ever make and brought a swift
end to his growing ministry. The old stone wall demised the alley
halfway down, preventing any chance of escape. The frothing
men that plowed beyond physical capability were immediately at
his back, celebrating the hopeless dead-end with fury through
burning lungs. Scanning the grounds for a weapon proved
fruitless, as the rooftops began to fill with more manic, pale
bodies. What had he uncovered? Lincoln turned to face the first
three, sweating and breathing through his mouth. Swimming
through his mind were hundreds of things he would never get to
do. Kiss Olivia again. Drive that Ford Scythe that he had his eye
on. Be a dad.

The possessed men got close, throwing their arms open
and spreading across the width of the alley while intermittently
rifling off shrill, piercing screams. It was like the sound of a train
grinding on its rails to stop. He could see their eyes now. Grayed
out. Dull, but focused. On him. Cracked lips pursed in savagery,
revealing teeth that were certainly formed for scaring, or tearing,
or both. A shriek descended almost on top of him, followed by
another, preventing focus in any one direction. They threw
themselves down from the roofs. The first body landed to his
right with a thud. The flat smack against the stone jarred and
severely winded it. It clawed the ground with great gasps, too
damaged to rise up. The second hit behind Lincoln with the
snapping sound of a large branch. That was its leg, no doubt.
Another jumped from a roof, landing behind the three in the
alley. The ones that had fallen were frenzied and bleeding. The
closest was a convulsing, writhing mess attempting to close the
gap by standing on its shattered leg. Lincoln smelled its rage and
frustration. The other wheezed and clawed along on its belly,
desperate despite how badly its body had been impacted. Lincoln
looked up as the rooftops filled. The drone had called in his
position. So many converging. Some were women. Some barely
more than children.

Lincoln harbored no delusions as the mob circled. This was
where his story ended. He fought the good fight, but was
overpowered in that lonely alley by sheer numbers and surreal
strength. Teeth sank in, elbows and fists rained down, damage
hailed from every direction. A torrent of strikes landed with
maddening force, taking his consciousness and filling his every
sense with thick destruction. His last thought before all went
black was of Olivia. But not in fondness. In worry. He muttered
his last words, “Please God, count her among your sheep.”

To order your copy, printed, or on e-book (limited time only $4.99) please go to amazon.com and order today! Please share intro with friends if you feel they would enjoy a fast paced Christian Fiction! Thank you and God Bless.

I’m a Fanatic, or a Hypocrite

I have previously defined myself as a biblicist. This means that I Believe the bible from cover to cover, a rarity, and absolute foolishness to most. Some would retort, “How can you take literally that which was intended as metaphor, or poetry?” The response is of course, I don’t. I realize that different styles of writing are utilized to unfold the entirety of biblical canon. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones puts it this way:

“The word [biblicist] connotes one who, while taking both the immediate and the remote context in to account, interprets and believes in the bible literally.”

He goes on to say that despite continual biblical criticism, the biblicist believes the promises and concepts therein, and also recognizes the rarity of such a belief, even among pastors, priests, and seminary professors, a shame in my opinion. But we can rest assured that this doesn’t mean I am so dense that I don’t understand prose and allegory are used.

Some other critic might say, “But how can you trust what was written over 2000 years ago!” A great question, not for this article, perhaps, but one that every believer and non-believer needs to answer for themselves. My studies have led me to believe in the truth of the word for many reasons, such as fulfilled prophecy, expert eye-witness accounting, corroboration with history and archaeology, just to name a few. Despite being amazingly unique in its circulation and teachings, it has been preserved better then any ancient book, the next closest being Homer’s Illiad. Just to clue you in to how much better the Bible is preserved, we possess 643 ancient copies of the Illiad, while we possess over 25,000 of the new testament. John Warwick Montgomery said this: “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow  all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity…”

For more on this subject and others regarding the text, try reading Josh Macdowell’s “New evidence that Demands a Verdict.” The first 200 pages of this book alone will change your world.

Regardless of how I answer critics, the point is that I always do, and zealously so, usually leaping from a sketchy foothold of slight coolness or quiet reserve, (which admittedly is very little to begin with) into an emotional soap-box diatribe, that causes any listener I may have to regard me thereafter with caution. If they don’t know me well, they will say I am a Fanatic, way too zealous and over the top, a bible-beater, a Jesus freak, a literalist who needs to relax because I take ‘religion’ way too seriously.

If the person does know me, then I fear in their hearts, they regard me as a hypocrite. Anyone who believes the word of God so fervently, they must think themselves righteous beyond reproach; a Christian who knows he is better then those he preaches to; a saint among sinners. I must seem so false to those who know my struggles, because the fact is, I fail every day, and they know it. They have seen me stumble, they have seen me fall. They have seen a filthy mouth, and a worse mind, a heart that fights darkness, and a mind that fights anger. They have seen my insecurities cause me to act out in hopes of public approval. They have seen me weak with drink, with words, and with action. They have seen my life, and all of its failures, and they know intuitively that this is not a saint that stands before them. This is not a so-called ‘good christian’. This isn’t a person who should be preaching to anyone. They must watch me wax on and on about my favorite subject, sometimes hotly, sometimes over too many glasses of wine, sometimes after trying to fit in, and they must immediately chalk me up as a fraud. A Hypocrite.

And they are right.

But also, they are not.

It is my favorite subject, because of how beautiful the mosaic is. How intricate the history of redemption is, and how it offers endless study that leads you deeper and deeper into awestruck wonder as you go. And at the bottom of it all, when all is said and done, if the conversation will allow and anyone is left to listen, they will find I am not judging, but just excited. They will find the whole reason that it is my favorite subject is indeed because I am so broken, and so imperfect, and so sinful. It is precisely because of the unique grace offered to us, and that I recognize I need it, that I drone on and on beyond what social protocol dictates. I do not mean to. I just love the material.

So yes, I am a hypocrite, because I am quite imperfect and am preaching. But I am not, because I recognize my imperfection, and therefore recognize my absolute need for grace. This makes me fanatical.

To address fanaticism, let us consider the bible. In it, God claims to have made the very world you stand upon. literally, the ground beneath you. Not only do you draw each breath by His grace, but every beautiful thing you have ever smiled at, ever enjoyed, ever felt, was because of Him. Not only that, He continued to love you, despite your sin, and offered you the inheritance of His son, Jesus Christ, who made all things. It says every single thing, the universe, everything was made… for Him. Even you.

It says this. There is no getting around it. It says fear the Lord, and work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It promises one of two results upon death, either the judgement seat of Christ, or the white throne judgement. If you don’t know which one you will be present for, it should scare you. Why am I fanatical? If it is not true, and is just a religion like all the others, to appease the weakness of man, and lessen the reality of death’s sting, then to be zealous would be foolishness. But being a Christian is hard. Why would we put ourselves through it, when we could instead fill our days with carnal pleasure, self-service, and indifference? There wouldn’t be a need to bother others with our beliefs, and persecution would be someone else’s problem. So why then, if it is so counter-intuitive to be Christian, do we allow God to be Lord over our lives?

Because it’s true.

And I for one would rather live a difficult truth, even with all its problems, then live a comfortable lie, and face the reality of God’s holiness when I die. Upon studying the Bible, to be honest, I find it hard to believe we all aren’t fanatics. I know one day I will wish I had been even more so.

So if I get excited talking about it with you, please know, I’m just a flawed person trying to love you, because God loved me first.

Why did I write this Novel?

Everyone wants to write a book, or make a film, or tell a story. Everyone has a fleeting thought about a scenario, or event that would make a fantastic tale. A situation, or predicament. Arching it back to a beginning, bringing it to a satisfying end, those are the difficulties.stock-photo-21876498-colored-books-with-clear-cover-falling-away

It’s within the execution of the telling that life gets in between, that we lose our way, that a great idea fizzles. I should know, because there are dozens of my own untold tales that have decayed in the assiduous assaults of everyday life. I have so many chapter ones that if they correlated with one another, I’d have enough material for another novel. But this novel, The Last Saint, was different. It was an idea that wouldn’t let go, and had to be told.

From a Christian point of view, if there was going to be a rapture, then there was definitively going to be someone who was the last person saved before it happened, the last Christian before the end; and I knew exactly what that looked like. Without the ambitions of publishing, or financial gain, or recognition, I only knew that I couldn’t dispel with the idea until it was fully discovered. The idea was strong, and haunting, and instead of waning, it grew to permeate my days, disturbed my sleep, and play out in my dreams. The need to write it was greater than my ability to dismiss it. It suddenly didn’t matter that I couldn’t write a novel, or that it wasn’t my job, or I probably wasn’t skilled enough, or that I didn’t have time. It was coming out, one way or another.

I found resolve in making a decision to write it. The trigger had been pulled, and like any other passion, be it music, or baking, or dance, I would undertake it’s challenges to make it as excellent as possible.

The first draft was done in one month. The story was out of my head, written badly, but on paper. I was in love. Now, to make it not so embarrassing.

I had written for years, mostly poetry, lyrics for rock songs, some unpublished shorts, none of which required the polished rectitude of a novel. Poetic license was often utilized as a license to remain sloppy, rather than bother to refine a chosen craft. This was true in many facets of life, not just art. But if I was to tell the tale, it would need to be told so that how it was presented didn’t detract from the power of the journey.

At this point, I didn’t even know how long to make it. There are articles on how long first time novels should be, articles on what techniques to avoid, what techniques to employ. A friend, by the handle Inkslick, was helpful in devising setting parameters, and encouraged literary horses, the drivers of common themes within the story. I read blogs from famous authors, and spent days filling my brain with information, until my momentum was stifled by fear. I had to let go of it all, shove it all away, off my desk, clear the mechanism. I chose one or two principles that seemed to resonate with me, and stopped trying to make it what it was supposed to be. I told my tale.

Getting picked up my a publishing company was a blessing, and quite unexpected. I had sent some chapters on a dare, and now a nationally distributed novel of my own will be arriving within days. All because this idea was so strong a year ago, and I didn’t let go. I learned. I learned weaknesses, but also what I am capable of. I learned that there is allowed to be more, much more, that flows from my heart, and into my life. I can add my own creations, my own thoughts, my own beliefs, to the world around me. I simply gave myself permission to do so, and in doing, to explore those little fleeting thoughts that we all have, crying out to tell a story. I just answered.

To order The Last Saint visit https://jrcooper.org/

 

Islamic Terror in Nice

This isn’t apologetcis, or theological study. It isn’t fiction, and it isn’t to teach. This is me going back to why I started writing in the first place, in order to get out my emotions, sort out my feelings.

Because confusion about the depravity of man, though always realized, is thrust into full shocking comprehension when yet another terrorist takes as many lives as possible before gladly accepting death. And those left behind to view the horrors wrought are forced to sift through the detritus in hopes of eventually emerging with some comfort. But for the non-Christian, there is none. Is that shocking? Let me say it again. For the non-Christian, there can be no concept of justice, and there will be no catharsis.

The victim’s families are fully aware that it was this person’s intention to die after the mission, this jihadist action. It was a suicide mission, and for who knows how long, this man has been taught that how he went out was the most honorable way to do so. That it was preferred, and revered, and not only would he be held in high esteem back here among the living by his cohorts, but his holy book and spiritual teachers had already convinced him that paradise awaited. That dying for the cause is in fact the only sure way to reach paradise. If you are aware of this only as a concept attributed to right wing Islamophobia, consider these Quran and Hadith Verses:

 

Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.

And there is the type of man who gives his life to earn the pleasure of Allah…

I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.

Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed

seeking death at places where it can be expected.

Nobody who enters Paradise will return to this world even if he were offered everything on the surface of the earth  except the martyr who will desire to return to this world and be killed ten times for the sake of the great honor that has been bestowed upon him.

they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth… and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.”

As the Ayatollah Khomeini put it, “The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah.”

At a  youth convention in 1999: “Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam, that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam.”

This means that,

a) Islam is correct, and these people doin fact reached paradise this way, or

b) (atheistic view) since there is no God, no trial can be held, the jihadist got what he wanted, there will be no justice, and even retribution against other extremist factions will only result in the deaths of either innocents, or those who would gladly seek death for their beliefs. Therefore there is no healing. No peace. No life after this, and only confirmation of how meaningless life is. The reaction to this mindset is either a high degree of self-satisfaction or self-destruction. Or,

c) The bible is true, and the God of the bible is real. And in it, God states that judgement is His and His alone. Which means those who do believe in the word of God can in fact take comfort that final judgement rests upon Him. It will give the hearts involved, and those who sympathize, a very real peace about how judgement is handled in the end. And simultaneously, affords that same individual an opportunity to be thankful for their own grace. The process of healing, even this way, even inundated with gospel truth, will still be long and arduous. But there is comfort in Him, and in that truth. Comfort rather than utter helplessness. And hope in God is the precise thing that will give the desperate rest.

The reason why these Jihadists are prone to homicide has nothing to do with genetics, desperation, or suicide. It is the ideology that promotes martyrdom by promising paradise to those who lose their lives for Allah. Meanwhile, any attempt to protect citizens from this dangerous mindset in the west will be met with screams of racism, bigotry, Islamophobia, and right-wing hate. Never mind the actual teachings of Muhammad, or the scriptures of Islam, or the countless examples of terror perpetrated on not only the Muslim world, but the world over, or the rapes, or the sympathy for barbaric sharia laws.  But to educate people of this is to be hated, when it is in fact a hatred of hate, in other words love, that drives the desire to teach, and to save, and to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

I have already seen in the aftermath, countless watered down, desperate attempts to categorize this attack with the socially accepted narrative of the day, and each one has been a cop-out. I do not doubt the sincerity of grief, or sympathy. But they would not use that grief to acknowledge truth, for fear of offending. So to read their thoughts, one might think, perhaps it was Militant Jews? Perhaps it was Militant Catholics? Perhaps Militant Buddhists? But that doesn’t matter. Writings infused with allusions to inclusiveness, and judgement for those who don’t agree. But we all kind of know who it was, don’t we? We may not say it, but we all kind of know. And we all kind of know why. Do we have an honest conversation about it? Or do we post a prayer for France (which of course we should be praying for them), change our profile pic to an Eiffel Tower, and content ourselves to be distracted by the next sensation, or scandal, or fad, so that we do not have to consider it. Perhaps a sports team, or some funny videos, or political scandal. But in 9 days, or two weeks, or a month, it will happen again, hopefully next time with a gun so we can quickly blame those to divert focus from the truth (and because blaming a truck is silly). And we will all kind of know who did it. And we will all kind of know why.

Lincoln and Olivia Fischer

(Back Story: The Last Saint)

“You don’t think it would be an amazing adventure?”

“I think it would be an expensive one, if that’s what you mean?” Olivia chided Lincoln’s attempt to entice her, and not for the first time, to consider a trip to Israel’s holy land. “It just isn’t in our budget, love. It’s output versus reward. At the end of the trip, we’d be $20,000 further from being in the black, and have 200 digital pictures in a file on our E-hub that we never look at.”

“You are looking at it wrong.” Lincoln set himself sternly facing her. He almost faltered against the glare he received, as she reacted to his insinuation. She was obstinate, surely, but from time to time, despite the deep love for his wife, Lincoln chose a battle to stand his ground. Their mutual respect for each other prevented catastrophic blow-ups, but with the self-control exercised by each, came the ratcheted-up, unresolved tension that could last days. “It isn’t just a vacation. It is part of history, of heritage. From that place grew almost every belief and law and value that this country used to hold dear. Most of that history you can’t even find anymore because of the Purge! It isn’t for the pictures. It’s to stand somewhere special!”

“I just got you back from overseas! Are you not somewhere special right now?!” Olivia wondered loudly.

“You mean, Tennessee?”

“No, you schmuck! Home! Here! With me!” Olivia about-faced and walked from the room, leaving Lincoln standing in their living room to consider her absence, and all that it implied. He heard the tires screech as she pulled from the garage, and as the engine reported back her growing distance from their condo, he sighed audibly, and collapsed back on their couch. “I guess I won’t be going to the gym with you then.”

Why was this so difficult, Lincoln wondered. Only back from military duty for a few days, and already the fondness caused by such a long absence had withered. “I should have known better than to bring up religion again.” It happened every time. Such a wall there; something so repellent towards his love of biblical studies.

Lincoln made his way to the study, calling to the house, “Lights at 35%.” They dimmed to his specifications as he slumped into the desk chair, dejected, and jacked in to the e-hub. “Pick up where I left off” The private journal file appeared on screen. This journal was kept off the Sky, the world’s cyber-drive. He could see at the lower right he had several more requests for the growing collection of material. The Purge had caused quite a demand within certain circles.

Lincoln Fischer focused his energy on research. Olivia would be gone awhile, and he could get a good bit done before trying to salvage the evening. It was an easy escape, a love of something mysterious and complex, that wanted to be discovered. But was Olivia not just such a mystery? So lovely, so full of fire.

Lincoln bowed his head at the desk, “Father, please help me to be a better husband. To find a way to love and respect my wife on terms she will understand. For us to find common ground, hopefully, eventually in spiritual matters, but not just that. Let her… please just let her see my love for her, in all I do; in my actions towards her. And please, help her to to see Christ in my life, and help it to soften her heart. She is so strong, and so brave, and I love that. But, Father, though she has these characteristics, I know deep down, she will need humility too. To finally see what I see; to be in awe of you, and in that new knowledge, realize her need for your grace. I don’t know… I don’t know what will… just help me Father, be who I need to be for her. Amen.” The screen was sleeping when he opened his eyes. Lincoln stood resolved to love his wife through this spat, and made his way to the kitchen to prepare a candlelight dinner.

(To find out the fate of Lincoln and Olivia, read The Last Saint by J.R. Cooper, out in only a few days on amazon.com or here at www.jrcooper.org available for pre-order now!!

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Releasing the Novel…

On a more personal note, I would discuss the artist’s mindset upon releasing a work into the wilds of the world. I think we all have a creative side, to one degree or another. I have found that even the most stoic and calculating souls have a hidden place inside where they always dreamed of painting, or wrote a few words of prose down. Many play instruments, some dance, and I am a big supporter of these outlets. They tend to relieve stress, and help you to know yourself. But many times it is personal and never gets beyond the door of your sanctuary. Which is fine.

But many let fly their passion, past the gates, and into the world, like releasing something they loved. Now, before the actual release, there is most certainly anxiety, some reticence, and usually a healthy bit of scrutinizing over the work. Hundreds of man hours go in to tweaking the art form, because it will become a public thing.  You have to be sure that when released it conveys the best of who you are. The best of what you can be. Many don’t release it at that last moment, because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of letting themselves down. And there is fear of your art being hated, which, since it is something you loved so hard, means they hate you.

But those that do, those that take that step, that sign their name to something, to a performance, to a piece of art, they get to experience one of the great treasures of life, one that cannot be had by way of money, or affection from the opposite sex, or from self-service. Because to make art is to give the world a piece of yourself. It is to love others with the gifts you were given. It is to be courageously you. And if that passion moves people, or succeeds in however we measure success, then you have proven to your inner most being that you have added to the world, that you are special, that you are unique. And conversely, if you fail, you have taught yourself that actually failing after trying was not nearly as bad as what you feared it might be. You have risked, and learned how to grow. You have gained courage, and knowledge, and have come that much closer to discovering just what it is exactly that makes you beautiful.

There is a world full of joylessness out there. A world full of the anonymous negative, who hate that they have not risked, or that they have never tried, because they think if it doesn’t work out, if the world doesn’t make them ‘go viral’, it is tantamount to being nothing. Those people will attack, they will use the anonymity of the web, or the distance between your effort and theirs to berate and slander and cut down who you are. And I understand that not everyone has the self-confidence to face such a world. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. But, as a man who has written songs I feared people would hate, and stepped on stage to sing when I knew that I wasn’t one of the vocally blessed, and written a novel half convinced I wasn’t qualified to write, I will say that following through is an awakening of self-discovery. Each show, or story, both the good and bad, has forced me to reflect upon my path, and honestly assess who I am and where my power lies to affect others for the better.

I don’t know if lots of people will read my novel, or even if the subject matter is cared about by most. But in a few days, it will be released, out in the wide world, to be seen… or ignored… hated… or enjoyed. I feel strongly about its quality, and am confident, if it is read, that most will really enjoy the journey within its pages. And my answer to those who hate it? “My friend, I tried with all my heart, and all my love, to do honor to the gifts that God has blessed me with.”

I would encourage you all to try, to push the boundaries of those passions you love, those things you spend hours doing, perfecting, and to put that love into the world. The world will never get better by taking from it, only by giving to it, and you all have something unique to give. Let it fly, and do your best to not just hear the negative joyless, but look beyond to the courage you had to love the world in a way only you could.

@JRCooperauthor

http://www.facebook.com/cooper.author

The Last Saint

 

The Last Saint

My first novel, The Last Saint will be coming out this month. I am currently setting up payment methods for any who want to have the book shipped to them. Or it will be available on Amazon.com once released.

The Last Saint by J.R.Cooper.

I am very proud to bring you this work of Christian Fiction. In it, Olivia Fischer seems to have it all together. Smarts, beauty, and a strong husband who is passionate about serving his country. But the arrival of her husband’s diary from overseas, coupled with his mysterious murder, throws Olivia’s comfortable life into a chaotic and dangerous search for answers. World events have been set in motion, events which will impact every citizen on a global scale. One book holds all the answers.

In The Last Saint I explore eschatology from a biblical world view, shining light on tough questions as we weave through a story that unites cultures on the front lines of the battle for humanity.

Look for more updates as we approach a release date. Brought to you by Touch Publishing Services from Arlington Texas. Please follow along here and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cooper.author

If this looks like something you are interested in, please help me promote, and tell your friends and family. Should be a great adventure in apologetics.

 

 

You Aren’t Free

There is this violation to our psyche, this offense that rears and bucks at the thought of losing liberty – or worse yet, realizing you don’t have it. This battle is tumultuous within the political realm, to be sure. But what about within your soul? If we focus for a minute, not on the rulers and lawmakers of a particular land, but instead on the method in which you run your own life, make decisions for yourself, chose your path.What controls that direction? Is it random? Certainly not. Your choices are made based on what you love.

That is not to say that we don’t have free will, but rather that our choices are inexorably tied to that which we love and worship. Becky Manley Pippert, in Out of the Salt Shaker, says, “Whatever controls us is our Lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by acceptance. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our lives.”

This means that though we act upon our own desires, make 10,000 decisions a day, all while maintaining that we are masters of our own destiny, not one of us is free. There is no soul that is not pressed upon by some ruling factor. There is no one truly at liberty to be free from all needs, or to just be. This is an illusion, and furthermore, as with atheism for example, to deny God, or a lord within your life, is to deny that a deeper desire exists within you, one that rules over your direction. Fear? Food? Vanity? Sexual immorality? Money? Anger? Do these not lord over us? Do we not make decisions in order to feed these desires? That isn’t freedom. That is control of another kind. I am reminded of verses such as, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.  Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!  Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.””

If there is a lord of your life no matter what, if this is a truth that is understood by an individual, then it would behoove us to take notice of what the bible makes very clear. You are either of Him, or of your father the devil. There is no alternative option. To be utterly free is to be God. This means, as people who aren’t gods, we must choose the type of slavery we want to operate under. The slavery of sin, of unforgiveness, of distance from our creator God? Or do we  chose to worship God, make Him our king, our Lord, and in that relationship, find redemption, forgiveness, grace, hope. Either way, you belong to someone not of yourself. If you need proof, then consider this… the lord of your life will determine the nature of your death. If you are in fact the lord of your life, then by what means will you conquer it?

Be Still…

Many Christians look around at the social and political landscape with a deep anxiety towards what the future holds. Different issues cling to our psyche like pursuers we can’t gain distance from. Morality, liberty, church, money, the way in which we view these things is changing. What’s worse is we are often guilty of feeding that worry, of staying exposed to it, trapped in an echo chamber of our own making  until we believe the sky is falling. It does us good to step back and remember who is in charge.

You have to wonder how terrifying the world seemed to young Daniel when Babylon marched the Israelites across Shinar into Babylonian slavery.

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.” – Dan 1: 1-2

Israel, after prophetic warnings, had finally passed into judgement for not obeying God. Jeremiah chapter 34 explains how Israel did not practice their Sabbath days or years, and were to spend between 606BC and  536 BC as slaves to the Babylonian and Persian empire. It was exactly 70 years before Daniel and his countrymen were allowed to start rebuilding Jerusalem, the bulk of his life in fact. Permission was given by the Persians to rebuild the temple, but never again, until May of 1948, were the Jewish people not ruled over by others. They had lost their independence.

But what came from this slavery, this providential lowering of protection for Israel. First consider the precision of judgement. God’s people had abandoned the Sabbath year for precisely 490 years before enslavement. Every seventh year being a Sabbath year, meant the Israelites were being judged for disobedience in regards to exactly 70 of those years (490 / 7 = 70). The exact amount of years they were under captivity! Much too perfect to be coincidence, true historical data such as this continues to make the word of God unique, and remarkable.  Precisely 70 years were paid back to God; and during those 70 years it was prophesied not only the empires to follow and continue to rule over the Israeli people, but also the 490 year prophecy pertaining to God’s plan for them. A precise starting point was given, and an exact time of the messiah was shared with Daniel, and in turn, with the world.

The bible was edified beyond comprehension through this tumult, proving to be prophetically accurate, highlighting God’s precise righteous judgement, and promising a time of grace and salvation, all within, and around, and in the midst of human debauchery. You see, it is within the framework of human behavior that this historical narrative plays out, and does so according to the sovereign will of God. What seems like abandonment, unfairness, tragedy, when examined from a historical perspective, falls in line perfectly with what God is doing. Make no mistake, grace and judgement are, and have always been, linked. We like to celebrate God’s love, but tend to deny deserving God’s judgement, and the sacrifice necessary to bestow undeserved grace. In Eden, sin was covered, and the animals shed blood to cover it; during the flood, Noah and his family were spared, the continuously evil world judged; at the exodus, Jews were shown grace, while Egypt was judged righteously; at the cross, the world was loved, while blood was shed. It has always been.

A true study of Daniel is mind-blowing, but the greatest lesson from its pages is the comfort of knowing who is in control, even when hardships fall. That trek across the Shinar valley, each step adding distance between each prisoner’s home and holy places, while the Babylonians defiled everything sacred, how could one be asked to trust in God. It must have seemed hopeless. But even then, we can look back at a perfect mosaic woven by God’s hand, and see a plan unfold that was implemented beyond our understanding, and outside of our time.

What does this mean for you? It means that God’s plan far exceeds your understanding,  even your life, and furthermore, He does not owe you explanation before accomplishing His will. What He demands instead is trust. The kind of trust Daniel personified, despite circumstance, despite slavery, despite even death if need be. But this trust does not go unrewarded. In return for your trust, you receive that precious grace you don’t deserve, and it is stamped with the same assurances as the prophecies given to Daniel, which unfolded with supernatural accuracy.

So when we view the landscape of our times, do so with the wisdom that comes with hanging hope on the promises of God. He has asked for your trust, and has bought you with His own blood. For consideration:

When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm. – Psalms 75:3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. – Psalms 46:10

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

(Jesus) Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27