I've been teaching homiletics in my free time for over 25 years; which comes as a surprise to many who hear my sermons.
I really like teaching doctoral candidates.
Half of 'em know more than I do.
Half of 'em think they know more than I do.
All of 'em have the charisma for discussing books which they haven't read.
Because no one has a monopoly on the truth, except for Jesus who doesn't count because He's God, I listen to everybody.
Of course, contrary to what some folks assume, listening and agreeing aren't always the same.
KD subscribers and Metanoeite prayer partners have made that clear to me.
My last few KDs have really provoked responses.
Some people got really mad at me for picking on JC with no regard for the first sentences of the Decalogue.
I discovered others aren't really into humor; or, at least, my kind of humor.
A whole bunch of 'em were ticked off about the youth sports stuff and said I was trying to make 'em feel guilty; which probably means they are guilty because you can't make people feel anything without their consent.
So I'm devoting this KD to my subscribers - So where's the 12Gs? - in acknowledgment that some are listening aka reading while not necessarily agreeing aka responding with those 12Gs.
I don't have time to collate this stuff.
I spent all morning in the hospitals, all afternoon doing stuff around the house which ruined all afternoon, and I've got a Pig Roast at the church tonight which will be fun but won't do much to reconcile my reputation with Muslims.
Besides, I'm starting just before the last thing on today's agenda which means there may be several breaks in the action; meaning this KD may come off even more Daliesque than others.
I'll just go through the pile and pick out the representative stuff.
Somebody from Pennsylvania who is the chairwoman of a PNC and wants me to, uh, write a reference for somebody wrote, "I want you to know we find your writings to be very offensive. You pick on everybody you disagree with. It's so hateful. I wouldn't pay for anything you write."
Join the club!
Last time I checked, the church hadn't received 12Gs despite my shameless begging and my latest book is running about a trillion behind RW and even say-nothing-but-say-it-with-a-big-grin JO and I can't get my publisher to push Golf in the Real Kingdom even though...
Candidly, this one really hurt; because I do love folks a lot and that even includes the ones who hate me for saying what they don't want to hear.
So I called my daddy.
He said, "Will you please get over it? If you don't agree with people, they'll say you're mean or hateful. That's just a ridiculous way of avoiding truths that contradict their lies. Grow up!"
Counting time in the womb which I always do because God does, I'm almost 57!
My dad ticks me off.
He's always telling me the uh, gasp, gulp, sigh...truth.
I got an anonymous call on my cellular.
Don't you love anonymous calls and letters.
It takes real guts to do that kind of stuff - kinda reminding me of Islamic terrorists.
"There he goes picking on the Muslims again!"
The call: "You're right, Dr. Kopp. But, remember, some folks end up dead right."
My thought: "Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never..."
What's that first part again?
I hope I don't have that one-time-only gift of martyrdom.
I haven't had a hole-in-one yet.
A non-anonymous old antagonist who spent a lot of money to call me from Florida and isn't expected to send in the 12Gs challenged, "You think everything is so funny, don't you?"
I said, "Well, uh, yes, I do...like you!"
He hung up.
I didn't get a chance to say I'd cry all day long about the inhumanities in our world and even church if I didn't laugh a lot.
With my responses in italics, here are some really, really, really good questions which everyone should ask about whatever they say, write, and do from a friend in Chicagoland:
1. "Have you done this out of love for Jesus, His Church
and His world? Have you spoken the truth in love,
or just tried to make a point?"
I hope so. I pray so daily. And I thought you
knew so. What I do I hope, pray, and labor
to do for Jesus; using Buechner as a guide:
"A prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-
down a lover's quarrel. If they didn't love the
world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it
that it's going to hell. They'd just let it go."
2. "Does this build the Kingdom?"
I hope so. I pray so daily. And I thought you
knew so. What I do I hope, pray, and labor
to do for Jesus. Salt stings on an open
wound but prevents gangrene. Bernanos
wrote that. My bottom line is, "Don't
follow me! Follow Jesus!" Colson said
that. Again, I hope so. I pray...
3. "Are you unmasking these idols because you
like doing that? Or are you called to be a
prophet in these specific circumstances?"
O.K., yeah, I like being iconoclastic. It's
a Decalogue thing for me. But, yeah, it's
kinda fun too! As far as the second
question goes, I'd rather leave that to
Him and His to confirm.
4. "Are you ready to let your church and family
(not just you) pay the price?"
I am prepared to die (literally) for Jesus,
my family, First, the PCUSA (they're
killing me daily), and even you - you
unrepentant Cubs fan. As far as anyone
making that decision, it's theirs (and
yours and you know what I mean) to
make. Yes, I will die for Him and His
and even them for Him. No, I will not
decide for others. He saved me in
time for all time. I owe Him.
With friends like...
Here's one from Vermont: "I love reading your articles, writings, musings...Pastor _____ forwards them to me...I long for preachers who will tell the truth and not cave into the culture or their churches to get along at His expense...We are called to be salt and light...Keep on keeping on! People of integrity are hard to find! I thank God for you and others like you!"
I read that one just after reading the one that said I'm filled with hate.
A local: "I loved your rebuttal to the lawyer. I ran into the same thing within my own organization with a board member slamming _____, slamming _____, undermining, undermining, undermining...Shame on me for not telling the truth sooner. I could have saved a lot of time and heartache. It goes back to the _____ leadership. They twist the truth to advance their lies. I've learned to tell the truth first. It may hurt up front but saves you from a lot of pain in the end."
LO, former pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church and recently retired Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, counseled me in a little coffee shop near San Francisco Theological Seminary about 30 years ago: "It's better to tell the truth up front and hemorrhage than to accommodate lies and bleed to death in the end."
Whenever I have told anything less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, it's because I was hiding a personal or corporate lie.
I know all about lying because I did it so well so long for all of the wrong reasons which is why I can sniff it out like weed at a rock concert.
Speaking of lawyers, one of the finest in Boone County is an elder's elder aka really good one at our church and another who has bailed me out in the past is a very close friend and renowned litigator in Pittsburgh.
Another lawyer from Texas wrote, "When you get a letter from a lawyer, don't take it personally. We get paid to provide services for whoever is paying us to provide services. I tell my clients, 'After yawning, call me.'"
Another lawyer from Utah was a tad more, as AG would say, snippy: "You were right! Tell the _____ that this is America not China!"
I like humor; but I'm truly concerned that dissent and disclosure are being increasingly threatened by folks with something to hide.
I wrote to someone who writes a lot more than I do (Imagine that!): "Well, somebody who slipped onto my subscriber list wrote to say how much I offended her and how I'm so filled with hate...So now I know how you feel..."
He wrote back: "I appreciate the sympathy, Bob...Reactions run to the extreme, as in having my AOL account closed for "offensive language." You would be surprised who did that...One guy threatened to contact the Attorney General..."
I keep a card produced by some nuns in my Bible: "If you're right, you don't need to argue. If you're wrong, you can't afford to..."
Here's one from a RV[J]TF league representative: "Well spoken! A lie is a weapon of defense. The bigger the threat, and the more troublesome the perceived attack, the more vicious the defense of the lie becomes...They are circling the wagons to protect their version of events...Sigmund Freud said, 'Guilt is a product of the superego.' And in this mess, their egos don't come much bigger...Some people embrace their own reality so much that they begin to believe that the version that they have conceived in their minds is true. Lord, be with them when those things born in the darkest of corners become blatantly obvious. I hope when they are brought out and exposed, you're the one standing there and holding the light switch."
I hope so.
I am forgiving.
I need forgiveness.
See Matthew 6:14-15.
A mentor from Victorious Ministry Through Christ counseled, "My response is not be careful but be obedient. God uses people to speak for Him, and He also protects those who walk in obedience. I believe Christians have been still too long. I will link my name with anyone who is speaking for God. So what if they decide to do away with me. I just go to be with the Lord quicker!"
With friends like...
A younger woman who is battling the beast in the mainline was encouraging: "If you let them take away your integrity, you have lost everything. Besides, if you always tell the truth, you never have to remember to whom you said what...If people sense disingenuousness from your pulpit, you lose your effectiveness as a pastor...Thanks for being my piece of sanity in this mess. I really appreciate that I can always count on getting it 'straight' from you and that means a lot - more than you know."
I confess it helps to hear it.
I don't hear it that much.
I'd settle for 12Gs.
While I've got a stack for the circular, just one more from a covenant brother: "Oh, Robert, Robert, Robert...I think I can hear echoes of the mutters being voiced by those who see themselves as anointed keepers of purity and propriety: 'Wilt no one rid us of this meddlesome priest'...Stay the course...keep your eyes on Jesus...Shake off the dust from your sandals or cleats."
After reading Matthew 10 and John 10 to get right in the midst of so much wrong concomitant to my call, I thought of a closing scene in The Green Mile.
John Coffey, a gentle giant only hours away from being executed for a crime which he never committed, has a final conversation with Paul Edgecombe - the head guard of "The Green Mile" or death row:
"Is there anything special that you'd like for dinner,
John? We can rustle you up most anything. Even
bring you a beer, if you want..."
"Never got the taste," he said.
"Something special to eat, then?"
"Meatloaf'd be good."
"Meatloaf it is. With gravy and mashed."
"What else to go with it?"
"Dunno, boss. Whatever you got, I guess.
Okra, maybe, but I's not picky."
"Now about the preacher? Someone you
could say a little prayer with...It comforts
a man, I've seen it many times."
"Don't want no preacher...You have been
good to me, boss. You can say a
prayer, if you want..."
And then John Coffey says something that really, really, really hurts whenever I pray and try to speak, write, or do anything consistent with divine revelation according to Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture:
"I know you been worryin, but you ought
to quit on it now. Because I want to
go, boss...I'm rightly tired of the pain
I hear and feel, boss...I'm tired of bein
on the road...I'm tired of people bein
ugly to each other. It feels like pieces
of glass in my head. I'm tired of all
the times I've wanted to help and
couldn't. I'm tired of bein in the dark.
Mostly it's the pain. There's too much.
If I could end it, I would. But I can't."
If I could end it, I would.
But I can't.
I'm tired of people discussing the book which they haven't read.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Blessings and Love!