messages that Robert and I will be sharing with you for
the next few weeks are based on the central theme from Galatians:
fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, long
suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self control." (Galatians 5:22, 23)
a powerful Bible verse. No one sentence offers more complete
emotional description of the followers of Jesus Christ than
this verse from Galatians.
all want to live life at its best. That is possible ... and that
is what God wants from us. And I want to add another Bible
verse, which is the key Bible verse that controls the spirit
of this ministry,
who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall
mount up with wings like Eagles. They shall run and not
be weary. They shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:37) That is a promise from God
that the positive spirit of faith can give you energy for
creativity and for overcoming.
that God wants us all, yes, you and me, to have an exciting
life. And that is what the Bible gives us. That is what
Jesus Christ teaches. The Holy Scriptures has been around
for over two thousand years in continents, cultures, crossing
many creeds. The Bible has something that no book has quite
like it. What we get from the Bible will give us life at
its best ... 1) a purpose to live
for ... 2) a self to live
with ... 3) a faith to live by.
Live life at its best
1) A purpose to live by
therapist of human emotions can say there is anything we
need more than a purpose to live
for. Without a purpose in life you will be bored
... and boredom leads to all kinds of addictions. Alcohol
addiction ... sexual addictions ... the list is long. But
if you have a passion and a purpose, then you have an inner
emotional power that will drive you. 1) A
purpose to live for ... find it in the Bible. 2)
A self that you can live with ... that's when you put your head to
the pillow at night and you are happy with the person you
are. And 3) A faith to live by.
seminary, the theological school where ministers go to be
qualified for the work that we are called to do, there is
the study called Homiletics. In Homiletics, professors teach
you how to deliver what they call "sermons." And
they teach that there are four kinds of sermons. There is
the expository sermon, when a preacher just goes through
the Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter. That is called
"expository preaching." Some ministers specialize
in this. I don't specialize in that.
is another kind of sermon, called a "topical sermon."
Topical sermons are where you focus on human need ... a
hurt. You find a theme from the Bible and offer to people
an inspirational message that is called "topical preaching,"
biblically based just as much as expository sermons. We
are a topically preaching church.
is a third type of sermon that is an "evangelistic
sermon." In evangelism, you have a target and that
is to lead people to Christ so that they will accept Him
and Know His power and love. We often have an evangelistic
sermon as well as topical. Then there is another kind of
sermon called a "biographical sermon." That is
where you tell the story of a human being who has lived
out the faith. By the time you finish telling that story,
people will learn from it and draw a legacy from it.
I want to attempt a brief biographical sermon which I have
never done in the 55 years that I have been ordained, partly
because the people that I would want to talk about are still
alive, and I don't want them to blow it before they die.
is a biographical sermon about a woman whose funeral was
yesterday. She was one of the greatest human beings I've
known in my history as a pastor, and I've known many famous
inspiring women like Mother Teresa, at whose beautification
ceremony I attended at an invitation from Rome a few months
the woman I want to tell you about, I admire as much as
I admired Mother Teresa. Her name is Adella Cooper. She
is a friend and a member of this church for 42 years. When
she came here I was young and just starting this church.
Yesterday we held her funeral. It was wonderful. What a
celebration. Everybody loved her. Adella Cooper showed us
how to live life at its best.
She had a purpose to live for, a self to live with, and the faith to
live by. That's what made her so special ... she
had enthusiasm. She was so enthusiastic when she attended
a church dinner eight weeks ago. She went up and down the
dinning room almost trotting over to her friends ... table
to table. She and I laughed, wow, what energy!
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength..."
That's the way we get enthusiasm. Enthusiasm
is energy ... and energy can be enthusiastic!
Live life at its best
2) A self to live with
did she get her energy? She had it because she was never
wrapped up in herself. She was always looking for other
people who needed encouragement or hope. During World War
II she was a surgical courier nurse on the Santa Fe Railroad
from Chicago to Los Angeles. She took care of the sick people
and children on the trains.
met a man on one of her trains, a very successful and famous
engineer named Fred Cooper. He was attracted to her. They
had three dates and they got married. Last August they celebrated
their 61st wedding anniversary! Phenomenal! She was born
in a little farmhouse in Saskatchewan, Canada. There is
where she learned how to cook chicken. Through the years,
at all of the family's holiday celebrations Adella has cooked
one of her recipes of chicken. They were fantastic. In her
written recipe file she had as Cooper's first lesson on
how to cook chicken:
Sharpen your axe.
Find a fat and healthy chicken.
Adella and Fred were married only five days, Adella's sister
died suddenly, leaving three little children. Adella said
to Fred, "I need to take care of them." So she
offered an annulment to her new husband because he didn't
marry her only five days before to suddenly have a family
of three kids. But Fred couldn't think of annulment. He
loved her. He loved the children. So they adopted the three
children. That is how they started their marriage. A year
later their daughter, Glenellen, was born.
when those four children became teenagers (Glenellen was
Miss Junior Miss of California), the next door neighbor
suddenly died. And his wife was also dying of a brain tumor,
so Fred and Adella took them into their home ... four children
and their dying mother. Two years later, the mother died
and Fred and Adella adopted four more children. That means
they raised seven children plus their own. This is compassion ... the Spirit of Jesus Christ!
Live life at its best!
3) A faith to live by!
Enthusiasm ... Compassion ... A purpose to live for! ... A self
to live with! ... A faith to live by!
Adella's husband was so sick her spirit of enthusiastic
energy was exceptional. The Navy had assigned Fred to a
very special and secret task of developing a weapon that
could save a lot of lives. They tested it out in this little
boat on the ocean. There was an explosion, Fred survived,
but his lungs collapsed and he would spend four years in
the hospital. Adella, now alone, taking care of all the
children, was also his nurse, did research and discovered
there was one experimental drug that might possibly help
him. When Fred was told he had about five hours to live
she experimented on him. The drug worked. and both lungs
wererestored! That was a miracle. What a woman of faith!
Fred always liked airplanes, so when he recovered, he took
up flying. In fact, 41 years ago, when Adella came to church
with the children, Fred was too busy flying his airplane.
He was more interested in flying his airplane than church
... until one day he had a forced landing. He survived and
he said, "I'm going to church with my wife next week."
And he came every Sunday after that experience.
the children were grown, Adella decided she was going to
learn to fly an airplane. She would learn to pilot their
airplane, but she didn't have time to go to pilot school.
So she taught herself, sitting beside Fred. In case something
should happen to him, she wanted to be able to land the
plane. And she became a very good pilot and got her license.
That's adventuresome faith!
Live life at its best with adventuresome faith!
night, she and Fred were flying in their twin engine Cessna
Skymaster when the landing gear couldn't be lowered. Adella
was not afraid to live ... she was not afraid to die. So
she was in control over her emotions. When Fred said, "We
have to belly land. Get ready." Adella took off her
glasses; she unlocked the door latch, tightened up her shoulder
harness and slid back her seat. Then she looked at Fred
and said, "Okay, I'm ready!"
belly landed. Whew. It was successful and it made the newspaper
the next day. It was a big story of this engineer who had
to belly land his plane. And it was reported that he was
accompanied by an "unidentified female companion."
Live life at its best!
Not afraid to live ... not afraid to die.
a life she lived. Adella was a pillar in this church. One
of the first people to give her offering faithfully. She
loved being a volunteer, teaching Sunday school, waiting
on tables. She was a volunteer in many, many areas of the
church. In the Hospitality Center she greeted tourists who
visited from all over the world. This she was doing only
a few weeks ago.
Live life at its best!
Turn tragedy into triumph!
always seemed to turn tragedy into triumph. The oldest of
her sister's three children that she and Fred adopted was
a boy named Bob. At 15 years of age he was driving a car
and he was killed in an accident. Adella said, "I don't
think he had enough drivers' education. We didn't spend
enough time teaching him how to drive a car." She said
the high school should make driver's education a requirement
for all 15 and 16 year old students to receive a license.
So Adella rallied her neighbors together and took up donations
to buy a car for the high school and for a teacher to be
hired. A law in that high school was passed that every high
school student needed a driver's education class. And they
prepared a driver's education syllabus. Adella did it all!
That caught the attention of the state and it became a state
law in California. Driver's education in high school was
started by Adella Cooper. How many lives did she save? She
made a difference and we all thank God for her! Catch the
spirit of Adella Cooper; it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Live life at its best
Make a difference in your world
people, what kind of legacy will you get? I want to give
you a legacy of faith, courage,
enthusiasm, compassion ... and no
fear of living ... no fear of dying. That was Adella
Cooper. And many people who belong to this church and follow
this faith of Jesus Christ have this same energy of life.
Adella lived to be 90 years old and only a few months ago
she mowed her lawn with her own lawn mower. And then, on
her knees, did the edging of her flower beds.
week ago she had a stroke. Her husband was at her side.
She couldn't walk. She couldn't talk. But she could understand.
When Fred, her husband, wrote to a few of his friends to
tell them that Adella has passed away, he wrote that she
refused life support or life extension systems. She wanted
to let God take her the way God wanted to. So she was transferred
to a nursing facility where she could do the things she
Fred, her husband of 61 years, added, "I was holding
Adella's hand when she looked directly into my eyes and
blinked, then yawned. I blinked, but gave her an exaggerated
yawn. She blinked again, made a bigger yawn. I thought she
was playing our usual sleepy time game that we'd done through
the years. Then her hand relaxed from mine, her eyes closed,
and I noticed she was not breathing. She was gone. Adella
Cooper, 90 years old, and we brought her remains to our
Crystal Cathedral Memorial Gardens, as we thanked God for
Cooper lived life at its best! This is not fiction. This is
are no other institutions on planet earth, not in the arts,
not in the sciences, not in the humanities; other than the
Church of Jesus Christ with the Bible that offers you life at its best!
Live life at its best
purpose to live for .... A self to live with ... a faith
to live by.
want to give you a faith to live by, a Savior so you can have a self that you can life with. Let's pray.
You, Lord, for the Bible, for its truth that gives us salvation,
a purpose to live for, a self to live with and a faith to
live by. Thank you Jesus. Thank You for people that are
even now moving from doubt to faith. They are thinking differently.
We've all had a sermon from Adella Cooper, a good sermon.
Thank you, Adella. Amen.