GregoryCooper's Blog

thoughts from a Christ follower

Right Beside Me

“I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Psalms‬ ‭16:8‬ ‭NLT. Knowledge of God’s presence provides strength and stability to walk through even the most difficult valleys.  

This week has been challenging to say the least.  The tables were somewhat turned – normally I am the one sitting with people in hopes of bringing them comfort during the valleys of life, but this time it was me and those closest to me who were going through the valley.  Watching someone, that you love dearly, struggle through their last years of life is difficult, but watching them struggle to breathe and waiting for them to pass into eternity is excruciating.  Thus has been the last few years as I watched my dad struggle with the affects of Alzheimer’s/ Dementia as well as other physical and mental diseases.  I didn’t always understand why God would allow these struggles, but I found solace in knowing that He was with us as we walked through them.  I was right beside my dad, just as he had been right beside me throughout my life, as he breathed his last and left the room to go and be with Jesus.  

I think that I have done pretty good to help others but now I needed help myself and I knew that my family needed me to help them as we gathered for my dad’s funeral.  I wanted to honor my dad by preaching his funeral,  but I wasn’t sure that I could hold it all together to share words of hope and comfort.  Remarkably both myself and my brother, who led us in singing a couple of hymns, not only held it together, but clearly pointed others to the hope that manifested itself through our lives this day as we celebrated my dad’s life and shared Jesus with all who had gathered.  How?  Only through God’s presence and provision, knowing that He has gone before us and that He is still beside us gave us a great sense of peace and strength as we talked about faith in Jesus and the eternal hope that we have in Him. We leaned into His presence and found comfort as we thought about dad’s presence now with Him.   

Faith in and focus on God’s presence is the key to making it through the low spots in life.   I encourage you to find strength to press on and push through in knowing that God is with you.‬‬  So whatever you are facing today, know that you are not alone.  God is aware of your situation and there with you to lead you through.  

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March 12, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To soon

Today I write to honor a friend, Macayla, who left this life what seems to be far to soon. Funny thing is that, I know her better now than when she left.  I’ve learned that she loved to dance and sing, play and compete, and pour her life into others.  I knew her to be sweet,  quiet, and a little shy, but now I know that she was outgoing and even a little loud.  I now know that she was  often the life of the party and would likely make a big entrance, but five weeks ago she made a big exit…from my perspective, she left to soon.   

I have thought about it a lot and maybe it was only to soon for us who are still here.  Our  perspective is much different from hers. While she has left here, she has made her entrance into the place that we all can only dream of. She is witnessing the very glory of heaven in the presence of God and his angels. She is in total joyful bliss – no sorrow, suffering, or tears.  How soon is too soon to go to a place like that?  

Over the last few weeks I have sat and watched several sunrises and sunsets, I have seen the rays of the sun streaming through the clouds and I have thought what a beautiful thing that God has made, but all of that pales in comparison to what she is experiencing.  I am glad that she is there, but I miss her here and my heart breaks for those whom I am sure miss her even more than me.  

Too soon?  How long is long enough in this life?  Well as I worked through that thought I again think through the last five weeks.  Macayla has touched and impacted my life in an incredible way.  I have listened to and read tributes and testimonies of the difference that her life has made in the lives of others – as I consider life I would say, that’s how long- long enough to make a huge impact and leave a legacy that causes other to consider how they are using their time.  I stopped today to think of the impact that she has had on me:

  • I have learned the importance of spending quality time with friends and family
  • I have learned to pray more and depend on me less
  • I have learned to not leave things unsaid and to be careful with the things I do say
  • I have learned to play hard and passionately whether I am in the game or on the bench supporting the team
  • I have learned that my life may make more of an impact than I can imagine 
  • I have learned and have been reassured that God is enough

As I remember Macayla, I think about the stories of her sitting on the bench, being supportive of her team, but at the same time wanting more playing time.   I think about the all out aggression and heart that she played with when she was given playing time.  I wish she had more “playing time”.

 Today I thought the best way to honor her is to play hard  at life, using the time that I am given and making the most of it.  I realize that life isn’t a game, but it is a wonderful opportunity to use our God-given talents and abilities to make a difference – to share God and His love with others.  

Macayla leaving what seems to be all too soon, is incredibly painful and difficult.  Of all the things that I have done in ministry, telling her “see you later,” has been of of the hardest.  While from my perspective I still struggle with thoughts of “to soon”, especially as I think of Macayla’s family and friends, I am thankful that I didn’t have to wonder if it was too late.  You see, Macayla had put her faith in Jesus and  had received God’s forgiveness and salvation.   Therefore, although it seems to be soon to us, who miss her deeply, it was just the right time for her as she entered the presence of her Savior.  

December 3, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Holding on to hope and finding a way to be thankful in spite of life’s difficulties

This year was a difficult thanksgiving…my heart was filled with emotion as I looked around me.  Overall I had a sense of thanksgiving, even though it was difficult to be thankful for some of the circumstances that I found overwhelming.  I hope that as you read these thought that you will find strength, hope, and the freedom of thankfulness.  

Here are a few of those tough things for me

  1. Watching my kids cry as they watched their pa pa, my dad, struggle with Dementia / Alzheimer’s.  He know all of us but doesn’t know much else.  Hard to hear him ask that I take him home but not understand why I could not.  
  2. Thinking of all of the friends who have lost loved ones, people that I also loved.  Knowing the emptiness and the longing of their hearts as they missed their child or spouse. 
  3. Thinking of another year of ministry…missing friends who have walked away from the church I love, watching families and individuals fall apart in sin instead of turning to the Savior.  Wishing I could do more to lead others into God’s presence.  
  4. Watching people struggle with mental illness, depression, and various health problems …I have prayed for them to get better but for some reason God has not brought healing.   

Let’s face it, you probably have a list of “hard things” too.  While all of these things are incredibly heart wrenching and difficult, we can still find a way to be thankful in spite of circumstances.   How?  

1. By trusting in God’s character – He is good, loves us more than we can understand, is able and is still in control, and is actively working to work together all things for our good and His glory.  Psalm 100, Proverbs 3:5,6, Romans 8:25-39

2.  By carrying everything to Him in prayer and remembering that he has promised to always be there.  Philippians 4:6,7,13,19; Matthew 28:17-20; Hebrews 13:5,6

3. By leaning into the people, both family and friends, that God has placed in our lives to love, encourage, inspire, lead/ teach, and strengthen us.  We have shared tears and laughter, favorite biblical promises and heartfelt prayers, and the things that God has blessed us with (time, talents, and treasures).  Hebrews 10:19-25, Galatians 6:1-10

4.  By remembering that we are not home yet.   We are just passing through…God is preparing us for what He is preparing for us.  Eternity awaits!!!   John 14:1-6, Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 2:12,13

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  Psalm‬ ‭107:1‬ ‭

Thank you Father God, for who you are: a loving God and a good, good father.  Let us always remember that we are never alone, that you are with us and at work on our behalf.   Thank you that your grace is sufficient and that your strength is perfect in our weakness.  Thank you that you are able and willing to finish the work that you have started in us.  Thank you for giving us the strength and the hope to carry on and for carrying us when we cannot carry ourselves.   

November 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Press on.  Be still and know

August 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hope is Alive

Whether you know it, or believe it, hope is alive!  How do I know?  Because I know who Jesus is and He is alive.  Now before you shut me down, saying, “you don’t know my situation or my circumstances”, I ask you to consider a few things that I have learned about Jesus:

  • He is God, He came to earth as the visible expression of God, to show us who God is and what He is like, and to die for our sins that we could be free from both the penalty and power of sin.  Colossians 1:15-17;Mark 10:45
  • He gave up His life that we might have life in Him…He was killed for our sins and raised to life for our justification.  John 10:10,11; Romans 4:25
  • He backed up all of His claims with His actions – He can be trusted.  Matthew 28:6
  • He called people to follow Him that others would not give the time of day – ordinary people like you and me who often fail miserably. 

    Here are some things that I have learned about Jesus (God) from a story in John 11:

  • Jesus cares about our circumstances more than we can understand – He is moved with compassion and empathy towards his followers. vs. 33,35,38
  • Jesus is never too late, but always right on time.  God is working out his plan to fulfill his purpose even when it seems like nothing is working out and there is no purpose.
    God is able, He can do more than we think.  vs. 4, 21-26,33,43
  • God is willing, He is for us. He came in the person of Jesus Christ and died in our place and rose again to give us hope of life eternal.  

    After His resurrection Jesus appeared on several occasions to several different people; He ate with them and they touched Him – they saw that He is alive.  (1Corinthians 15)  He then ascended to the side of the Father where He continues to intercede for His followers.  So even if it seems that all hope is dead, remember that the author of hope is alive, and if you believe in Him you have eternal life waiting for you.  John 20:31 He is for you!

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fight to think Life-giving thoughts

Each day I battle my thoughts, maybe yo do to.  So how are we to fight?   We must start using God’s truth to combat the lies of the enemy.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭4-5‬ NIV)

Instead of listening to the thoughts that often invade our minds we must instead take those thoughts captive and compare them to the truth of God’s Word.  Instead of listening to our thoughts we must start listening for God’s voice…he desires to speak truth into our lives and has given us his truth in the Bible.  

Here are several great truths from God in Romans 8 that you need to hear today:

  • There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
  • To live in accord with God we must set our minds on the desires of the Spirit
  • Fleshly desires lead to death but spiritual desires lead us to life
  • If the Spirit is in us God has adopted us into his family
  • The sufferings that we face here do not compare with the glory we will know there
  • God’s Spirit prays for us when we cannot pray for ourselves
  • God is working everything together for good to make us like Jesus
  • If God is for us no one can stand against us
  • Nothing can separate us from God’s love
  • We are more than conquerors in and through Jesus Christ

I would encourage you to spend some time in Romans 8 this week.   Memorize some verses that you can use to fight against the thoughts that often ruin you.  Listen to God’s voice by telling yourself the truth of His Word.  

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

July 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God is a Great Father

What if I really believed that God is a great Father?  How would my life change?  How would that fact change my life?

I urge you to consider this…God is a GREAT Father.   Here are just a few of His great attributes:

  • He pursues a relationship with us and draws us in…John 3:16, 6:44
  • He is present to walk through life with us … Psalms 23, Psalms 139
  • He provides all of our needs …Matthew 6:25-34
  • He protects us and watches over our lives… Psalms 34
  • He perseveres even when we want to quit … 1 Corinthians 13:7, Philippians 1:6
  • He acts on our behalf and interacts with us in an intentional / purposeful way … Romans 8:28-30, Philippians 2:12,13
  • He is Able … Ephesians 3:20, Jeremiah 32:17

What if we daydreamed about being a child of God like we do about being born into a really wealthy, well-connected, powerful family?  What if we realized that we have been born again into the family of the ALL POWERFUL, SOVEREIGN, UNLIMITED GOD of the universe. Maybe we could have “what if” shift – let’s move from our “what ifs” that are fueled by worry/fear to “what ifs” that are full of possibilities and unlimited potential.  Let’s start living as if we believe that God is a great father who is at work in our lives.  Let’s give glory to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine.  Let’s live like God’s kids!  

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dealing with “Things”

Life is full of uncertainty right now. Things that I don’t understand, things that I cannot change or fix, things that I cannot control. So what am I to do? The choice seems to be less complicated than all of the things…I can dwell on my inability or I can trust in God’s ability.  
Seems to be an easy choice, but then I find myself wondering if and when God will move. Again I come to a crossroads, trust in his care or in my understanding of all the “things”. I am learning that trusting isn’t acting like I am happy with the way things are going, nor is it acting as if I blindly believe that I just need to wait a little longer for God to handle the “things” the way that I think that he should.  

Instead, trusting is believing that God is moving in the midst of all of the “things”…Carefully at work, for good that I may not understand on this side of life. I wish that I had all the answers, but it seems that the more I look for answers I only find more questions.  

 So how do I press on? Trust that there is more, this life is a great adventure but isn’t the final destination, it is a passage to eternity.  The creator of all things has me on his radar and is indeed moving “things”along according to plan. He loves me and knows about all of the “things” because he is with me each step of the way.  As we walk along, his whispers remind me that we are not there yet,  still a little ways to go, press on and trust me – I am taking care of all of the “things”.  

Matthew 6:25-34; Proverbs 3:5,6; Philippians 4:6,7; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Psalm 37:3-5, 23,24

May 27, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blessed?

Do you see life as a blessing or a burden?  Yesterday I shared a message from Ephesians 1…I asked people to consider how we are blessed in Christ.  Verses 3 – 14 unfold for us a number of ways that we are blessed in Christ:

  • blessed with every spiritual blessing
  • chosen by God
  • adopted into his family
  • accepted with the one he loves
  • redeemed through the blood of Christ
  • forgiven for sins
  • promised a great inheritance
  • sealed by the Holy Spirit

We learn that these blessings come through faith in Christ, as we believe in Him, God includes us in His family.  I am continuing to pray that we can all come to understand the depth of what these blessings mean for us.  That God will give us wisdom and revelation to know Him, to open our eyes to the hope that is before us, and to help us grasp His power at work within our lives.

Even as we consider all of these spiritual blessings we begin to ask what about the physical burdens?  Life is still hard at times, however understanding the spiritual allows to endure the difficulties and even enjoy the journey.  Our trust and confidence is that with God as our Father, He will not let us go or leave us to face the challenges alone.  He has given us His Son and has Sealed us with His Spirit. He can be trusted to carry us through whatever valleys we forge or to enable us to climb whatever mountains we attempt to climb.  To the praise of His glory and with his wonderful grace in mind, He has already given us far more than we deserve, and has promised us an even greater future.

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

It’s Monday

Mondays can be tough days…can you relate?  Monday means back to the grindstone, no more weekend of recreation and relaxation but instead back to work and the weekly routine.  So how can Monday become a day that we are energized by the promise of another week that we enjoy, instead of the start of the days that we endure to just countdown to the weekend?

Well today I decided to start with giving thanks — first thanking God that he loves me just as I am and is patiently working to reshape my life so that I can live up to the potential that he has placed before me. (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12,1,2)  I thanked him for another day of life and for the life with which he has blessed me. (John 10:10)  I thanked God that I get to serve him and even get paid for it…I thanked him for allowing me to represent him in the lives of others and for the weekly opportunity to speak his truth into the lives of others.  I thanked him for all of the people that serve along with me here at Brightside Church as I walked around the various classrooms and ministry settings.  (Romans 12:3-8)

As well as thanking him for what he has done I am praying expectantly with thanksgiving for all that he is yet to do.  Holding onto his promises of continuing to work all things together for good as I strive to fulfill his purposes for me.  (Philippians 4:6,7, Romans 8:28)  I am learning to trust him more each day, even on Monday – He who has promised us his constant love and care is faithful.

This approach is working for me, I would ask you to give it a try.  How are you doing this Monday?  I encourage you to begin with giving thanks and then releasing the burdens on your heart to God.  He tells us that we can come to him boldly and find mercy and the help we need, even on Monday. (Hebrews 4:16)  So lets look forward to today and each day this week, anticipating more of God’s blessings and provisions as we pursue his purpose and live out his plans.  I am praying for you on this wonderful Monday – our start to another great week with our Father God who loves us more than we can possible understand.  (Matthew 6:25-34)

February 2, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment