Dare To Live The Life of Jesus Podcast, Episode 1
Join me with Michael Cooke author of Unpacking God for the 21st Century: A Guide for Growing Your Soul. In this podcast series, "Dare To Live The Life of Jesus", Michael and I explore what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century.
Click here to visit Michael's YouTube page.
Chris Templeton 0:02
I want to welcome you to the first in a series of podcasts titled dare to live the life of Jesus. And this is based on the book, unpacking God for the 21st century, a guide for growing your soul. I'm really pleased to introduce Michael cook. Welcome, Michael.
Michael Cooke 0:19
Thank you, Chris.
Chris Templeton 0:20
Michael, talk a little bit about your background. How did you get to the place of writing this book?
Michael Cooke 0:27
Well, ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a missionary. And I was one sitting by the lake one day, and I was reading a book and about traveling to China becoming a missionary. And I thought that would be nice. If I would become a missionary. It didn't end up that way. I ended up being a writer of spiritual books. So it's a different journey. And I'm fully enjoying it. And I started writing this book, actually, in the in the late 1990s.
Chris Templeton 0:59
No kidding. So this has been a work in progress for you for quite some time.
Michael Cooke 1:05
It has been a work in progress. And writing has just been what it is. It's, it's whenever it happens, it happens. And I don't force it. And the results are unpacking God for the 21st century. And, yeah, it's been more than 20 years in the works.
Chris Templeton 1:26
So tell everybody about the actual title and how you came to this. Because one of the things that really surprises me about this, and we'll get into this more, but this is primarily based in Christianity. And yet, we don't hear a lot of people talk about taking care of your soul, not to say that it's not a part of Christianity, but it certainly doesn't seem to get the amount of time that that you're devoting to in this book.
Michael Cooke 1:55
Well, actually, we do talk about the soul a lot. A lot of churches do talk about the soul. But it lacks the form it lacks the substances, how do I do it? How do I live the life of Jesus, and we do talk about it, but we don't actually own it. And this book, unpacking God for the 21st century is about action. It's about taking those baby steps, so that you can live the life of Jesus. And that's why this series is called dare to live the life of Jesus, because it's a challenge. It's a challenge I'd like people to focus on, I can do it. And therefore I will challenge myself to do it in a group setting, because none of us can really do it alone. We need others around us to support us as we make this journey in life.
Chris Templeton 2:44
So talk a little bit about before we get into living the life of Jesus, what does it mean to impact God for the 21st century,
Michael Cooke 2:53
Updating and modernizing? I think we're stuck in the past. We don't talk about the issues that at conferences today, we'll talk about the beauty of the solar system, the beauty of the galaxy, the beauty of the universe. And all of this now is updated for a new audience, a younger audience that understands that science is a part of our culture, and we shouldn't shy away from science.
Chris Templeton 3:19
It seems to me more than ever, that science and religion are going down or heading toward the same endpoint, aren't they?
Michael Cooke 3:30
Yes, they are. And once regulatory ends, once that based on factual in the two will, at some point at merge over to say, you know what, there's more to this than what we imagine. And the facts bear out that creation is not a mythology. It is a reality, but it's based on science.
Chris Templeton 3:53
And and so a big part of your book is helping for helping people to understand that.
Michael Cooke 3:59
Yes, it is. It's, it's more the language and the context of the language. If you have children, yes, it's a read something from 1611 Shakespearean style, they're going to be confused by it, right? But if you ask them, What is it in modern language you'd like to see? And it's more of an update, it doesn't change the story. But it puts it in context for the 21st century.
Chris Templeton 4:27
And so from that standpoint, though, you really are focusing on a younger crowd, is that right?
Michael Cooke 4:32
I am focusing on a younger crowd on those who grew up with scientists who grew up with space travel, those who grew up hearing that it's okay to go to Mars in that, and that this is what we're going to do. It's an age of genetic engineering. And so the audience type now is for those who want to come on board and take it all in.
Chris Templeton 4:55
And what do you see as being the difference between that approach And older approaches, what do you think that has gotten lost in from the old versions of the Bible? and that sort of thing versus what you're trying to do? What do you what do you see yourself as bringing to the table, especially for younger people?
Michael Cooke 5:17
After the younger people, I'm going to give you an example of the Psalms. In the Psalms, you've got blessings and cursing. And that is, to me, particularly when I look at that section of the Psalms, I see the beauty in it. But at the same time, I see the ugliness of it. And that part of the ugliness, I decided to remove that ugliness and bring it up to date and focus more on what is it that we're asking ourselves for the 21st century. So the cursings, every move to all of the persons in the Psalms, And that, to me is more poetic, then it is to say, Yeah, but it doesn't negate the Bible in any way, shape, or form. It's more of a modern approach to looking at things.
Chris Templeton 6:05
It seems to me that one of the things that has been that Christianity in general has struggled with is how to make this transition, and how to, especially in today's day and age, how to appeal to this younger audience in a way that they really relate to and feel connected with. Isn't that right?
Michael Cooke 6:24
Yes, it is. Now, in the book, what you'll find is a series of parables that fits the criteria for today. And in those parables are stories, and those stories, if you're looking for it, you'll find the germ of truth. Now all of this can be searched in the Bible, and found in the Bible, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and john, but to have it being told in your language for today, to have it relate to issues of today. And that is the difference that I'm bringing with the book.
Chris Templeton 6:59
I think it's something that's desperately needed, especially for the younger generation, who I think they also relate to the idea of soul and more, a little bit more on the spirituality side. And if I understand what you're trying to do, what you're really working to do, is to bring that spiritual nature to a younger audience.
Michael Cooke 7:23
And that is correct, Chris, that's exactly what I'm trying to do, is to bring that spiritual nature, a lot of young people don't even go to church anymore. So if you ask them, What is the church looks like for them, don't go to regular services. And, and it's, it's, it's not a shame or anything, but in the context of it, they're still searching. And if they're still searching, they need those questions answered in a way that they can relate to. So it is for the unchurched also, that you don't have to walk into a church to understand this.
Chris Templeton 7:59
I think it's so powerful. And I commend you for recognizing that, you know, things have changed. And the way that young people look at the world is different at first so many good reasons. Right? It's not that they don't seek those same questions that the Bible set set out to handle years and years ago, and it still works for so many people. But this is really something that addresses today's need, isn't it?
Michael Cooke 8:29
Yes, it does address today's need, in the way and in one of the stories or the parables that we're dealing with genetic engineering, we're dealing with what happens when you have a designer baby, what's the moral implications? And what's the ethical concern? So the story fleshes out our moral and ethical dilemma in dealing with the issue of genetic engineering, and that a parent's choice, and issues like that are in the book. But there's a hole in a story form, that if you follow along the story and make the story become real for you, then you have to ask the questions. Is this the route our societies have going down? And can we stop it before happens?
Chris Templeton 9:16
And where do you land on that, in general? Where what's your sense of where things are going in that direction? And is it? Okay?
Michael Cooke 9:26
Well, we have moved really far in the genome in the quest for the for printing our genetics, but the real question I posed in the book, what are we going to use it for? Are we going to be using it for advancement of war? Are we going to be using it for the advancement of society? And there is that gap in between the uses of what do we want this technology to do for us? Is it to save life or is it to create destruction. So in this story, it follows it Genetic geneticists, and how this geneticist has used her knowledge of genetic engineering, to foster what we call class system in the class system that have portrayed in the stories. It is a wealth, its wealth, or lack of wealth, there's no middle class anymore, you either rich or poor, rich is able to genetically engineer their children, for the best education, they're able to manipulate the genes to get a higher IQ. And then if you cannot afford it, then you're basically in one of the passes to be used as a guinea pig or two.
Chris Templeton 10:45
It sounds a little scary.
Michael Cooke 10:48
It is scary, but we do have choices. And that's what I'm trying to bring out in the book is that we do have choices. But we must exercise those choices, not and wait for the future to unfold. But we must exercise those choices now and start our discussion of what are we going to use this technology for? Is it going to be for good? Or is it going to be evil?
Chris Templeton 11:13
Right? And, and so I take it that the answer to this in large part is what it means to live a life like Jesus.
Michael Cooke 11:23
Chris Templeton 11:24
So talk a little bit about how that that is the solution and what that means.
Michael Cooke 11:30
Okay, having gone through the Bible, and I mean, literally covered a cover, and having focus on the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and john. And looking at that section alone. And when you see how Jesus actually lived, how he actually forgive people, how does not condemn people, how we actually meets and greets everyone, and treats everyone equally? then the question becomes to why can you live that life? Why can't I be challenged, to live that life where I am going to forgive? Where I am going to heal? I'm going to help others? And in a bigger context of society, are we our brother's keeper? Are we going to be invited as the as a society, or we're going to try to unify unify around the purpose and the cause?
Chris Templeton 12:25
And so, in terms of living the life of Jesus, what does that look like on a day to day basis? What are you helping people to see? Because I think where you're headed is so vitally important, especially in today's day and age, to find that forgiveness to greet everybody to have this perspective that Jesus had, right? How do what does that look like on a day to day basis for people that are reading this,
Michael Cooke 12:56
on a day to day basis, actually comes out to saying no, a lot. And this is personal choice. And as you know, as a young child, a two year old, the first words are no, no, no. But as a mature adult, are also our choices are? No, because it's the right thing to do to say no. So. So in your situation where a child will say no, because they want to get their own way. We're saying no, because that's not the right way to do it. Let's follow the way Jesus did. And if we're going to do that, we're going to end up saying no, a lot of the times, but for the right reasons.
Chris Templeton 13:35
So what are the things that you think we're going to say no, to more often, and and rightfully so?
Michael Cooke 13:41
We're going to say no, when our conscience is pricked, and to say, You know what? That person over there has hurt me, I should not forgive them, I should carry that burden. And so I'm going to say no, I'm not going to hold that grudge. I'm going to say no to, I'm not going to take it personally, when somebody insults me, I'm going to say no, that is somebody says turn the other cheek, what does that really mean? It means that I'm there to show you an example of how you can live. So I think turning the other cheek has also been misunderstood. It doesn't mean that you're a wimp or anything, it just means that you can take an approach to say, you know what, I'm going to react non violently to you. I'm not going to give it to you. So I'm going to take the high road and walk the high road. And that's saying, No, I'm not going to come down to your level.
Chris Templeton 14:33
And when you look at that, because I don't know anybody that doesn't struggle with this in one way or another whether they recognize it or not. One of the things that you suggest to people that they carry, in order to be able to have that approach to be forgiving, to not be judgmental, how do we begin to really practice That
Michael Cooke 15:02
the art of practicing that I'm going to be honest, we can't do it alone. I mean, it's for human being to be separated from God in the sense that we're going to think we're going to do this on our own. Without divine assistance. The answer to that question is upfront. No. That's why a prayer and meditation is part of it in saying, God lead me to do the right thing. God helped me to do the right thing. I'm putting it in your hands. When I those choices come up, I can at least I am aware that I have to make a decision. But it's not possible for us to do this on our own. Because our human instincts is for our own survival and personal benefit.
Chris Templeton 15:49
And so with prayer and meditation, how do you see that applying, and really driving people's ability with that help, to be more forgiving, to be less judgmental.
Michael Cooke 16:08
It's in Christian terms, it's called surrendering to God's will, it is my will, that your will be done. In other words, it's a conscious choice you're making, to have God guide you, and lead you towards that end goal. It's a conscious choice of, of putting your life in the hands of God, so to speak, in a traditional sense, to say, you know what, I can't possibly do this as a human being on my own. But with your help, I will be come stronger at doing this. And so it's a reliance or dependence on, I'm going to trust instinctively, that the right thing will come to me and we're going to make mistakes. No doubt in any way, shape or form, we're not going to get this right. Even if we try 70 or 700 times, we're going to get it wrong. But it's the forgive yourself first and move on.
Chris Templeton 17:03
Boy, it's a really important one, not two bypasses is the whole part about forgiving ourselves and being able to move on talk a little bit about why that's so important.
Michael Cooke 17:18
One of the things that psychologists have figured out, and psychologists know this, when we hold things in, it's not harming the other person, it's harming ourselves internally, emotionally. And so if we don't release it, it's not the other person that has no idea or no clue what you're going through. But you're holding it in for your own detriment to your own house, it changes everything within the body, and therefore, don't hold it in, let it out. Because that person is not even aware that they've hurt you. So you can't keep holding it in.
Chris Templeton 17:57
And it really is carrying a burden, isn't it?
Michael Cooke 18:02
It is a burden is a burden on us to hold it in. Because we personalize it, we take it the hard way. And we can't look get past it. And we carry something around for years and years and years saying, you know, this family hurt me or this person hurt me. And a bird eating, it's eating internally at us, without even us becoming aware that we're damaging ourselves.
Chris Templeton 18:32
And the the antithesis of that is that I figure out a way to have this connection to God to feel this knowledge and wisdom to be able to forgive myself to forgive somebody else. And the result of that is pretty dramatic, not only for the person that's practicing this, but for everybody around them, isn't it? It is.
Michael Cooke 19:05
And one of the great examples in the Bible in the New Testament is the woman caught in adultery. And that woman, although she was caught in adultery, and she's about to be stoned, and Jesus wrote in the sand, and one by one his accusers fell away. And then he asked her who's left cast stone and there was no one left. He says go about your business. And again, because God does not hold us, or condemns us for making mistakes, because we're human beings. We should also likewise, forgive others for their mistakes, because we're going to make the same mistakes, or another mistake. So we're judging ourselves harshly. Also, when we don't forgive.
Chris Templeton 19:52
It is such a powerful message that I've been trying to create that same Forgiveness in myself and for others for for years and years. And what I've found is that even though it's hard to do all the time, just the practice of it does make it easier and does create a difference, doesn't it?
Michael Cooke 20:19
Yes, it does. It's that practice of it, is that never giving up it is that fight it is that dare to live the life of Jesus, which is really a dare, you're challenging yourself to say, you know, what, hey, I'm in this for the long haul. And I'm not going to be pushed into doing something, I'm not going to be pushed because somebody hurt me to respond in a negative way. I'm going to rise above that. And yes, you may respond in a negative way. And you may do it over and over. But again, that persistence, and keep going, even if you're knocked down at it, that will make a difference. Because you're not alone in this journey.
Chris Templeton 20:58
One of the things that I think a lot of people have difficulty with, especially that are younger, is this idea of connecting to God. And one of the things that you said earlier, was, it's about praying, it's about meditating, talk a little bit about what it means to you to have that connection with God and what it's what it's like. In other words, I think a lot of younger people think that it's, you know, oh, God should be talking to me or something like that, and they don't have that experience. Talk about it, from your perspective, what it means to have that connection with God in my life on a day to day basis.
Michael Cooke 21:37
Okay, I'll simply point out that what is said in the book, it is a feeling it is not, it's a feeling and a knowing. And because it's a feeling and a knowing, it can't be proven. Because it's internal to you, you know, you're okay, and you feel that you're okay. And therefore that trust becomes automatic. Now, it's, and it does take years to get to that stage where of getting over doubt, getting over is God still loves me, even if I made a mistake. Does God really care? And, and it's just an internal sense that, yeah, I feel the presence of God in me, I can't prove it. But I know I'm going to be okay. And to answer the other part of your question. In the journey of meditation and prayer, it is the art of letting goes the art of seeing, not only am I okay, but I want my neighbor to be okay. And when you do your meditations, just set yourself apart, I don't care, you know, like five hours of TV doesn't cut it. 10 hours of being on the on the internet doesn't cut it, you need to give some time to God, for reflection, in order to make this happen. You need to give up something and exchange something for that quiet time.
Chris Templeton 22:59
And the power of that time is dramatic, isn't it?
Michael Cooke 23:03
Yes, it is. And that time alone that whether it's four o'clock in the morning, whether it's 830 at night, or whether you know, you can see, I'm going to skip this basketball game tonight, because I feel I need to get into that place. And that's a hard thing to do, when you sports and other activities are competing for your time. But it is what I would call here the call of that withdraw from from your surroundings, even for 10 to 15 minutes a day. That makes a huge difference in your life.
Chris Templeton 23:41
I don't think you can understate that can you
Michael Cooke 23:45
know, I know for my own self, I do what is called an annual retreat, and I go away for a weekend. No noise, no cable, no, nothing of distraction from our society. And so therefore, I'm basically tuned out for an entire weekend. And I really don't follow what's going on until I leave. And I could miss anything or major events. But it doesn't matter. You are tuned out for that one weekend, a year.
Chris Templeton 24:14
And so going back to this whole idea of the feeling and the knowing it is it's this sense that I have a connection to something that's greater than just me. And in that connection. There's an incredible knowing there's an incredible feeling of being part of something bigger, isn't there?
Michael Cooke 24:37
Yes, there is. But there's even one step beyond that. And once you get there, you're going to find out something I need to do more for others rather than myself. And that's where the journey really becomes more what I call a self awareness that you know that you've got God with you, but it's more than just God. Now you want to create About your neighbor, now you want to care about your society, and you want to care about your community. And it's it's pushing it up to that level where the book is really going to be focused heavily on. It's that that community where we're not alone in this, because if our society collapses, we've only got each other, if there's a store, and half your communities washed away, we've only got each other. And it's not reliance to say, I've got to be there for my neighbor as well.
Chris Templeton 25:29
So we're getting close to the end. But let's wrap up with two questions. First of all, there are a lot of people that are going to listen to this, and share it, and people are gonna say to the people that share this, you know, living the life of Jesus, it's just not something that's possible, especially in today's day and age, talk a little bit about why it is and how it is, and what the result of living the life of Jesus is.
Michael Cooke 26:02
Let's start with the results. The results of living the life of Jesus isn't fully transformed community and our society. It's scary to think that if we actually live in, in principle, and follow the law, we're going to transform our society, we're going to transform the way we do things, we're going to be looking at a community more as an integrated community rather than myself alone, rather than me, myself. And I, that's the first part as how we get there, we need to focus on others who have the same bent, who have the same understanding and form our own community groups. So we can't do this alone by ourselves. What we can do alone is to make our personal choice. But to transform and to change society. We need an entire community to be on board.
Chris Templeton 26:54
And how does that come about? How do you see us getting to that point, Mike,
Michael Cooke 27:00
we have to talk about the issues we really have to talk about, I know that we talk about environmental issues, I know that we talk about climate change, and we talk about the spiritual but we all talking not not to help each other. But we're talking over each other with the start talking over each other and say, yeah, you know what, this is a community issue. And we need to solve it. But we need to solve it with God's help, not just trying to figure out how we're going to solve it on our own our two or three people that solve it, we need a broader base when Jesus started out with 12 apostles, it was a good community. So let's call this 12 apostles, a community. And they in turn, took that community elsewhere and spread it. So we need to create a community that can harness the spiritual power that's latent within us.
Chris Templeton 27:54
And how does because I think this is one of the things that people really struggle with is, how does this work from the standpoint? Yes, we want a community of people that are like minded, but we're always going to have people that have different religions, different perspectives. How does?
How do you manage that, in as the group of like minded people, it's about forgiveness, I take it and other things, but talk about how you kind of deal with all the differences that are out there.
Michael Cooke 28:30
You accept the differences of people, you will not, you cannot change people, and nor can you be expected to change people. We have to accept the differences of people and our common unity is a spiritual one. It's not the flowers, the birds, they're all different species, they all work together. They all are beautiful when in harmony, nature. So we really have to find out not what might difference and your differences. But what do we have in common, and what we achieve our commonality, our differences will not go away. So it's just to accept those differences. They're not going to go it's like a marriage. Two people get married, they're gonna have different views coming into the marriage, but it's to accept each other different points of view. And that's where we begin.
Chris Templeton 29:21
And really when it comes down to it, when you have this connection to God, when you have this ability to forgive, to be non judgmental, when you behave like Jesus did, that allows people to almost begin their own journey down a similar path, doesn't it?
Michael Cooke 29:46
Yes, Kristen. That is correct. It does begin down their path and it is like a herd. You start with one or two people, but as the herd grows, it inoculate It's each other, to know the right thing to do. And we self support each other, helping each other to encourage each other to do the right thing. And yes, we accept the failures, and not outcast somebody because they failed once or twice, or three times, or 70 times seven, as, as the apostle, Peter last Jesus, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. We're looking at this a long term, I will help you and we will all grow together.
Chris Templeton 30:32
It is such a different message than we hear from society, especially in America on a day to day basis, isn't it?
Michael Cooke 30:43
It is, but we're at the point in our society, where if we not minding the shop, so to speak, our society will fall backwards. And this is the stage right? where we are now of making a choice. Do we fall backwards and become barbarian, in the real sense of the word is that we become uncouth, unruly, or do we say, you know what, enough is enough, there's a right way. And there's a long way, let's move our society forward, as opposed to backwards. And leadership begins with us, it does not begin anywhere else. But with us personally, we have to take leadership for ourselves, and our society and our community, if each of us becomes our own little leader, to say, yeah, this is my choice. Also, I do not want to go backwards. So I'm going to make that choice for myself to go forward. If we can individually make those choices, we're going to transform a society.
Chris Templeton 31:45
I think that any buddy who is in the process of looking realistically at what's going on around them in this day and age, looking at what's happening with science, looking at religion from a fresh perspective, and really the basics of you know, prayer and acceptance and forgiveness and and being non judgmental. All those basics. Apply Now more than ever, don't they?
Michael Cooke 32:15
Yes, they do. And the reason why they apply and what now more than ever, is because of all the pressures of society is facing, from robotics, from engineering and genetic engineering, from, from what I would call, the leadership vacuum at the top, all of those things are pressure on our society. And if they're not corrected, we'll go back to becoming sort of like the Wild West, where every person does their own thing. So we do need a collective push forward. And this book will give that collective push forward, if we understand it. And if you're willing to take the time, the effort to follow along with it, and see where it goes. And we make the effort to say, yeah, you know what, I want to be part of that new wave.
Chris Templeton 33:11
Michael cook, you are the author of unpacking God for the 21st century, a guide for growing your soul. And this has been the first in a series of podcasts titled dare to live the life of Jesus. Michael, one last thought, what do you want your listeners to know more than anything else?
Michael Cooke 33:31
Whatever you want the listeners to know right now, is that we can transform our society, it's not too late. You hear a lot of people panicking, that, oh, climate change is gonna do this. And, and all of this is going to come to an end, and we're going to rule is going to come to an end and crashed. No, we have control, it's time to take leadership in our hands.
Chris Templeton 33:55
And that starts with each one of us individually, doesn't it?
Michael Cooke 33:58
It does very much. So Chris, it does start with each one of us, personally making that decision of participation.
Chris Templeton 34:06
Michael, thank you so much for taking the time to do this for taking the time over g 30 years to put this book together in a way that really makes sense, especially for today's generation.
Michael Cooke 34:21
Thank you for your time, Chris.
Chris Templeton 34:23
And so one of the things that's really important to know is where to get this book unpacking God for the 21st century. If you go to amazon.com and type in unpacking God for the 21st century, up will come that guide for growing your soul by Michael cook, so be sure to check out the book. We will be back with another dare to live the life of Jesus podcast soon. Thank you for listening. Michael, thank you for being here. See you next time.