Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September 30, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Ed Wells writes a weekly column for the Rockford Register Star.

He means well; but, occasionally, like me, his venting, like yesterday, is rather asinine: "I think of the government bailout to save the mortgage industry, and I think of many other problems the Republican administration has perpetuated on the American people - the Iraq war, Katrina response, treatment of returning G.I.'s, and now the mortgage mess."

He forget to mention AIDS, Paris Hilton, T.O., Red Sox without Manny, Bulls without Michael, and that the stimulus package didn't include wiping out my Caliber and plastic debt.


Blaming GWB for everything is so childish; as if he's smart enough to do things to be blamed for.

Like ending sentences with prepositions or pretending fragments are sentences.

O.K., maybe most Republicans don't care about the poor.

O.K., maybe most Democrats are immoral.

But, geez, not all of 'em are as bad as their caricatures.

Those two-feet-planted-firmly-in-the-air-with-smiles-betraying-a-vision-of-God-or-they've-just-wet-themselves jackasses!

Those big-beasty-slow-moving-never-want-to-see-anything-happen-for-the-first-time elephants!


Thanks, Ed.


I'm a church mediator in my spare time; specializing in pret' near irreconcilable/irretrievable/pastor/congregation/let's/make/a/deal/aka/severance packages.

Let me put it another way.

When pastors and congregations decide they can't do anything but hate each other in a Christian kind of way, I work out the split; usually in a way that doesn't cripple either party for, uh, too long.


Yeah, it's a disgrace; and reminds me not to blame Jesus for Christians.

I think of The Godfather - Part III.

Michael Corleone visits Cardinal Lamberto to talk about a legitimate business involving the Vatican Bank that has gone bad.

The Godfather tells the Cardinal about ethical lapses and criminal behavior in the church.

The Cardinal says, "Look at this stone. It has been lying in the water for a very long time. The water has not penetrated it."

Then the Cardinal smashes the stone; continuing, "Look. Perfectly dry. The same thing has happened to men in Europe. They have been surrounded by Christianity for centuries, but Christ does not live in their hearts."


Does the previous section bring to mind anything in your experience like, uh, mainline denominations, particular congregations in chronic conflict, Democrats, Republicans, youth sports, bingo...?


Maybe I'm just a little bummed today because somebody wrote to tell me that I forgot a word in the last section of 12/29/08's KD; while failing to comment on anything, uh, substantive.


Maybe I'm crushed because my good buddy who I covered for so many times didn't float a loan at better interest rates to get the Caliber and plastic off my back.


Maybe I'm just tired of people looking for scapegoats when blame is more often corporate than individual.

Or as I assume when beginning any mediation, "There are three sides to every story: her side, his side, and the truth."

Apart from Jesus, I don't know anyone who is blameless.


That's why Christians can often act like barbarians when they don't get their way.

Jesus, for example, provided perfect rules for reconciliation in Matthew 18:15-17.

But they don't work for my-way-or-the-highway people; and when my-way-or-the-highway people don't get their way by the rules, they break 'em and do whatever works to get whatever they want.

Or as I assume when beginning any mediation, "Trying to be rational with the irrational is illogical."


Forget it!

I'm not spelling out my complete mediation strategy or I'll never pick up some extra income in my spare time to pay off the Caliber and plastic.



Currently, my heart is breaking for a mediation which I should have been contracted to do for "the best preacher and pastor that we've ever had" who isn't quite good enough to warrant the kind of love and mercy which he extended to the congregation for nearly two decades.

I think of a congregation about 150 miles from where I'm typing right now which unceremoniously and unmercifully dumped their pastor who loved them so much for so long but was too, uh, human in the end; prompting a lawyer to stand and lament: "I am a lawyer by trade. My job has always been to find faults and place blame. In this case, I speak as a parishioner in support of a pastor, who has always been there for us regardless of our faults. When we have been arrested for a DUI, found in bed with the wrong person, fired with cause, accused of abusive behavior, found with one hand in the corporate cookie jar, and caught in sin, our pastor has always been there for us. He has been there in love, offering the grace of God, and embracing us despite our sin. I do not understand why we cannot be here for him, as he was there for us."

Are you there...Tom, Dick, Harry, Jay, Angela, Bob, Roy, Mitch, Jeff, JoAnn, Kathy,...?

Read Matthew 25:31ff. and John 13:34-45.


Speaking of bailouts, here's a thought from Florida: "As one economist put it, the smartest thing Bill Clinton ever did was to leave alone what Ronald Reagan put into action and then take credit for it."


But, uh, blame?

C'mon, Ed!

There's a lot more of it to go around than you've been saying; and don't forget to include yourself and me.


Blessings and Love!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 29, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Just a thought.

Do you think there's any connection between the economy going down the toilet quicker than poop through a goose and Election 2008?

I'll never get out of debt.


Speaking of anxieties concomitant to running mates, herewith are my four favorite reasons for wishing a "do over" before 11/4:

1. JB: "BHO does not have enough experience to be President...I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man...You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking...A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next President of the United States - Barack America!...HRC's a qualified or more qualified than I am to be VP [sic]...She is qualified to be President...It might have been a better pick than me..."

2. JM: "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated...F___ you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room [to Senator John Cornyn of Texas during an exchange about immigration legislation]...I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also...Remember the words of Chairman Mao: 'It's always darkest before it's totally black...'"

3. BHO: "I've now been in 57 states...They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them [explaining his troubles winning over blue-collar voters]...Forget about their children learning English. It's time for our children to start learning Spanish...I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator...Grandmother is a typical white person...I've got two daughters...I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby...You know, my faith is one that admits some doubt..."

4. SP: "I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment...The American Presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery...There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you in places where winning means survival and defeat means death...The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick!..."[Ah, forget it! Go to http://justjared.buzznet.com/2008/09/04/piper-palin-spit-hair-trig, http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1766638341, and http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/politics/video/play.shtml.


An increasingly favorite commentator from Ohio chimed in on Thomas Eagleton: "Wasn't he the guy that McGovern stood behind 1000%? This is when I realized that the way to tell when a politician is lying was to see if his lips were moving."


From the Big Apple: "All polls say 95% of blacks are going to vote for BHO. Where's the racism in that? What if 95% of all whites said they were going to vote for JM? Would the media and Democrats charge racism?"


From WJC: "I get why she's hot!"


And from down the street: "Two times in my life, the economy took forward leaps. Both times we had a Democrat as President and a Republican House and Senate. It is safe to say that history says that opposites work better in this country...I have asked counsel on my voting at church. I was steered toward one of the biggest screw ups of all time: GWB...I have come to respect your point of view more than anyone in my church. I would like your counsel on this one."


Forget it, friend.

I can't even bail out myself from Caliber and plastic debt; and even people who owe me have looked the way and my subscribers are cheap and I've taken this vow of poverty and...


Blessings and Love!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September 27, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


The first Presidential (sic) debate is history.

The Democrats are saying their vacuously eloquent candidate with nutty buddies won; but, of course, those jackasses would vote for Satan if he were their party's nominee.

The Republicans are saying their little guy with the big temper and really hot VP won; but, of course, those slow moving beasts on the edge of extinction would vote for Satan if he were their party's nominee.

Partisans are like that; and Election 2008 is the most partisan since, uh, hmm, geez, gulp, sigh, uh,...the last one.

Considering the choices, I'm praying America doesn't lose.


I watched it after a Friday night high school football game; and I was in a good mood because my favorite team finally won.

BHO came out smokin' and then burned out like he did in the last few primaries.

JM came out like a deer caught in headlights but then rolled over the opposition like he did after the first few primaries.

Maybe it will be close.


Go back to the first KD.


Election 2008 is evoking strange thoughts; and while I did inhale, I never dropped acid.

Hitler was a vegetarian.

The founder of Planned Parenthood attended KKK rallies.

And I'm feelin' like pops at the end of Moonstruck, "I'ma so confused!"


Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writers Group posted some strange, uh, interesting thoughts on 9/22/08:

I love BHO for his style, grace, intellect and
his way with words...I love SP for her chutzpah,
courage, maverickness and her authenticity...But
my inner eye is watching. And my inner voice is
saying: These are not good enough reasons...

I worry BHO isn't serious enough about terrorism
and free markets. I worry about his out-of-touchness
with the people who, he says, cling to guns and
religion because of frustration and anger. I worry
about a worldview that may have been shaped in
part by a spiritual mentor who damns America in
church and thinks the government invented the
AIDS virus to kill blacks...

I worry about SP's certitude and her slight
offness...I worry abut a worldview that might
have been shaped...by a minister who believes
Alaska someday will be home to Christian
renegades arriving for the Rapture...

With so much to worry about, we are left
with two not-great choices that...do not lend
themselves to sound sleep...

Stop the presses!

I thought BHO was running against JM.

I'ma so confused.


Do you remember Thomas Eagleton?

He's the guy who was dropped by George McGovern because of shocking revelations about his first choice for VP.

The rumor mill has it that BHO is about to dump JB because every day betrays another shocking revelation about the serial plagiarist who is not from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Be that as it is or is not depending upon your political myopia, I see lots of parallels between the two campaigns like vacuous eloquence, rigged polls, scarcely veneered media bias for lefties, and messianic over/undertones among the cultic, young who will vote if there's nothin' else to do or they're not hung over, and Starbucks/Oprah/pseudo-intellectual elites who pretend to be above violation of the first few of the Decalogue yet always seem to be first in line for sociopolitical seduction throughout history.

Anyway, if BHO does dump JB in favor of the political version of Howard Cosell (viz., HRC), don't make popcorn on 11/4 because it will be all over before Sports Center.


I may be wrong.

I picked the Cubs to win the World Series in February; and they're still going strong.

So if the Cubs don't win the World Series, forget what I've been predictin' about Election 2008 since 2/28/08.

If the Cubs do win the World Series, the lefties will have to go lookin' for another goat.


A really smart guy from Ohio weighed in on one of the most disingenuous and despicable uses of inactive membership rolls: "We never reactivate an inactive member just so we can transfer her/him to another church...Why should we inflate our statistics just to transfer a member who wasn't a member?"

Some churches/pastors/sessions do that?

I'ma so confused.


Go Cubs!


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


$750 really big ones to prop up privileged preppies; and I can't get $12-20 much smaller ones to pay off the Caliber and plastic.

It's confusing; kinda like trying to figure out how a community organizer qualifies as commander-in-chief.

On the other hand, if the other guy's temper is as bad as they say and we put his finger on the trigger...

Roll those dice!

No wonder China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia are making their moves.


Speaking of lies, a friend who rationalizes denominational sin to avoid dealing with it said to Cub Scouts about 30 years ago, "Lying is out. Little lies, half-truths, and pretend stories are out. They will not make you happy, because God does not like them. No matter how much it hurts, God likes the truth best."

That's what my latest book (Cave Canem) in search of a publisher in December, which nobody will buy either because JO and RW have cornered the churchy market, is all about.

Aside from learning it's better to dump garbage before others dig it up, which disarms antagonists who can't expose what you've already disclosed concomitant to ameliorating the vertical relationship, it takes too much energy and emotion to keep looking over your shoulder for that person who knows you're not as good as momma says or you're pretending to be.

Besides, if God forgives you, that's all that counts, uh, in the end.

If you're into holding grudges, don't read Matthew 6:12, 14-15 'cause it'll ruin more than a few of your days.

Let me put it another way.

Grudge-holders are gravediggers; and the only graves being dug are their own.

Or something like that.


I don't have any time left over for folks who lie about their relationship with God.

Yeah, I write about 'em; but I don't have slots in my daily calendar for 'em.

Here's what I mean.

I spent most of today's early hours just after midnight as a police chaplain with a mommy whose twenty-something baby boy was murdered by a rival gang; and I'm heading to the hospital in a few minutes to see some older folks who know their days are numbered no matter what happens this time and a fifty-something biker who is waiting to hear from the doctor about his extensive cancer surgery. Then I'm gonna meet with a woman who has dedicated herself to a church which has betrayed her. Then I'm gonna meet with a man who is about to lose everything in a divorce, uh, settlement. Then I'm gonna mediate a severance for a pastor who is "the best preacher and pastor that we've ever had" but isn't quite good enough to warrant the kind of love and mercy which he extended to the congregation for nearly two decades.

In other words, I can't seem to work up much energy and emotion for folks whose deodorant didn't keep 'em dry throughout the whole worship service because the air conditioning in the sanctuary wasn't cool enough or they're not coming back because I didn't convince our church board to go back to the old worship hours or I'm just not like _____ or...so many other lies to cover up the truth of not loving Jesus because the best measurement of loving Jesus is loving like Jesus.

Don't get me wrong.

I pray for whiners and irregulars and navelgazers and the like; if there's any time...

I don't have time for people with lame excuses for drifting away from Him and His.

Maybe I'd like to have more time for 'em.

Maybe I'm lying right now.

But I remember attending a workshop with one of America's greatest evangelists back in the late 70s and hearing him say, "Don't waste your time on green apples. Pick ripe ones! Specifically, don't waste your time on folks who are drifting away from the church but spend your time on those who are coming in or making inquiries."

Inactive membership rolls are a joke.

If somebody isn't shut-in or physically incapable of attending worship services and participating in the congregation's life, they should be dropped from the membership roll after a few months; unless, of course, you'd rather lie about your church's actual membership.

But, heaven, who said mainline ministry has any Christocentric/Biblical/confessional/constitutional integrity anymore?


Here are two big lies from Election 2008.

All Republicans are rich.

All Democrats are immoral.

But, of course, you could have fooled me!


Here's a note from a subscriber in New Mexico: "Tearing down Yankee Stadium is like exiling a congregation's gifted preacher and passionate pastor to replace him with a young pup that is not house-broken."

That's a lie.

Yankee Stadium evokes much more affection.



"Who am I?"

"I am under 45 years old, love the outdoors, hunt, known as a Republican reformer, have lots of children, considered a maverick, and I'm the VP candidate after less than two years in the Governor's office."

"I am Teddy Roosevelt."

"You go, girl!"


Here's some interesting news from Roll Call (9/22/08).

Of the 50 richest members of Congress, 27 are Republicans and 23 are Democrats.

The richest is Senator John Kerry who comes in at $230.98 million.

Thank you, John, uh, I mean Teresa Heinz!

Actually, that $230.98 is just what's in his pockets; and if you add in the Heinz ketchup heir's loot, he/she are worth over a billion (www.Forbes.com, 4/08).

O.K., disregard what I said about two big lies from Election 2008.


Turning to the truth about lies, I have recommendations for those who are marketing BHO and JM.

The Democrats should keep talking about GWB.

The Republicans should keep talking about BHO's nutty buddies; and keep showing this clip: http://justjared.buzznet.com/2008/09/04/piper-palin-spit-hair-trig.


Getting around to the first female President, lots of subscribers have asked for the link to SNL's hilarious Palin/Clinton address to the nation: http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/politics/video/play.shtml?mea=656281.

Of course, last Saturday's incest innuendo directed at the First Dude isn't worthy of comment or link; and proves again why you need to revisit http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1766638341 to discover the truth behind the dark side's hatred.

You go, girl!


I can't stand that expression (last sentence of the previous section); and I can't stand the moronic partisanship of Election 2008.

JB, BHO, JM, and SP are nice folks and all of 'em have some noble/nutty ideas.

BHO and JM have a great opportunity over this weekend to prove they're more interested in the welfare of America and a world so dependent upon America's welfare by putting aside their lusts for the White House in favor of what's good for the country and globe.

Tough times/decisions don't build but rather expose character; so let's see what they're gonna say about the billions for bailing out the already wealthy.


I am holding my breath.



Blessings and Love!

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I love to laugh
Ha Ha Ha Ha
Loud and long and clear
I love to laugh
He He He He
It's getting worse every year
The more I laugh
Ha Ha Ha Ha
The more I fill with glee
And the more the glee
He He He He
The more I'm a merrier me


I do.

I am.

While I can be more of the Amadeus, American Beauty, Apocalypse Now, Chariots of Fire, The Mission, and Platoon type in a continuing quest to unravel the subtle incarnations of original sin, I'd rather spend the day with Mary Poppins and Ed Wynn.

Maybe that's why I like SP so much.

She's a lot more fun than JB, BHO, or JM.


Speaking of the first female President, go to http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1766638341 to find out why the dark side hates her so much.

Yeah, I told you to go there in the last KD; but it's like I tell my preaching students, "If it's not worth preaching twice, it ain't worth preaching once; and if it's worth preaching once, it's worth preaching twice."

Redundant for the resistant.


A really smart guy who's an engineer who I really like but can't be around as much as I'd prefer because I'm always spending time with people in crises or who are hacked off about the franchise, particular congregation, a colleague, or me wrote, "Lately, several media types, intellectuals, and Hollywood stars, upset by SP's community organizer remarks, have said, 'Jesus was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a Governor.'"

He continued, "While this serves to annoy cultural conservatives on many levels, there is one possible retort to the Barak as Messiah crowd. Using your best
Texas Senator LB imitation of his belittling of Indiana Senator and then VP DQ, Christians could say, 'I know Jesus. Jesus is a friend of mine. Senator BHO is no Jesus.'"


Quoting the emperor of the dark side for my friends on the way left, "I can feel your anger."


One of America's leading evangelists before spending so much time in the White House with WJC and HRC likes to say, "There's nothing I like more than hearing someone who is supposedly so smart say such stupid things."

I've been thinking like that a lot as I listen to the partisans.

A Republican tried to persuade me that JM's inconsistent record shouldn't concern me.

A Democrat tried to persuade me that BHO's good grades in college and law school mean he's more than vacuously eloquent.


Hit me with your best shots!

Yo! Ed Wynn! Start singing, dude!


But don't you dare pick on SP!

She's hot!

And she's the only one of the final four with any executive leadership.

But who cares about facts when you can feel good about someone who hasn't done anything?


Go to that link and you'll know why she is hated so much.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

He! He! He! He!

If you read Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16ff. for some context after the last KD, you can now turn your attention to Ephesians 6:10-20 for the spirit(s) behind the hatred.


I'm not laughing.


A note from the right coast: "Closing Yankee Stadium is like moving the Masters from Augusta. Sad night for you."


Here's an exchange caught in cyberspace.

Jonathan Edwards: "The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which God is also magnified and highly exalted."

The Russian Wolfhound in the dog pound in Lady and the Tramp: "Miserable creature always looks for more miserable creature. And when he finds him, he is happy."

I don't know if that's more about mainline denominations or Election 2008.


Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

He! He! He! He!

Reinhold Niebuhr: "Humor is concerned with the immediate incongruities of life and faith with the ultimate ones...Laughter is our reaction to immediate incongruities...Laughter is a sane and healthful response to the innocent foibles of men; and even to some which are not innocent...We also prove by the laughter that we do not take the annoyance too seriously...People with a sense of humor do not take themselves too seriously...All of us ought to be ready to laugh at ourselves because all of us are a little funny in our foibles, conceits and pretensions...The ability to laugh at oneself is the prelude to the sense of contrition. Laughter is a vestibule to the temple of confession."


Cave Canem comes to mind and may come to print if a publisher overlooks my previous sales.

Regardless, I was asked for the book's theme.

It's simple: "God is so good despite me being so awful!"

Let me put it another way: "God is always right! I'm not!"


Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

He! He! He! He!

Psalm 2.



Maybe you better stop picking on...


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September 18, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


A friend who is much more practical than yours truly cautioned, "You're right; but if you keep this up, you're going to be dead right."


I've always wanted to be like Jesus; except for, uh, you know, the crucifixion part.


I'm like my peers who prefer to reimagine discipleship: "Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? Sure! Why not? Sounds great to me!"


Speaking of getting nailed for Biblically Christocentric stuff, you've gotta be nearly out of your mind to try to sneak out of a mainline franchise with your property and assets.

While you can read all about the horrors of separating to be faithful by going to www.presbyweb.com and its links, though you won't find my KDs because this genre doesn't seem to fit like my old columns did, just call up some of the pastors who have tried to bolt and ask 'em how they're feelin' these days.

Can you say Paxil?

Aside from the redirection of energies from pastoral ministries to litigation and endless ecclesiastical meetings which are worse than a Paris Hilton reality show, just call up some of the pastors who have actually kinda bolted even while their properties and assets are in litigious limbo-land.


When you leave one franchise for another, three minorities emerge vying to become the majority: (1) the folks who like the new franchise; (2) the folks who long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more; and (3) the folks who start acting like you've become independent, non-denominational, and congregational: mobocratic!

The previous paragraph's reality emboldens the minority who hates the pastor to seek to gain a majority vote at any meeting of whatever board is pretending to run the show and...

Well, you get the picture.

It goes back to my friend who has always felt called to the fabulously-well-to-do, which is why he doesn't worry about plastic and Caliber debt, who warned, "Pastors stay at a church until the minority that hates 'em becomes the majority."

Pastors who want to separate to be faithful rather than remaining faithfully run a much greater risk of stirring up the folks who will end up nailing 'em.

Just reporting.


Personally, I like JM and BHO; though I like BHO a lot more because he makes me think that he agrees with me on everything and JM has that annoying short man's disease.

I don't like JB because I'm a professor who doesn't like serial plagiarists; and as someone who tries to bring people together despite their differences, he is among the most biased and partisan political hacks polluting America today.

Uh, sorry, but I just don't like him; and he ain't no Keystone Stater even if he was born in Scranton! Dang, he's such a pandering political hack!

On the other hand, there's sweet SP...

Actually, she's not as hot as her adoring lemmings like me suggest nor as awful as her fanatical foes yell so hysterically.

Parenthetically, she is hot; if you know what I mean and one of my friends knows what I mean because he sent a picture to prove it.

Uh, sorry, but I just, uh, like her.


I've been trying to figure out why people who know nothing about her hate her so much.

I can understand people hating JM because he's got a record to dispute.

I can understand people hating BHO because he's got a record, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, never mind...

Anyway, two of my dearest friends sent something to me which finally clicked in helping me to discern why people who know nothing about her hate her so much.

Go to http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1766638341 for the answer.

Don't pay attention to 666 in the link because that's more about the other guy; but go to Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16ff. for some context.


Disputations in mind, my last KD (9/16/08) evoked 237 responses from coast to coast, Liberia, Israel, Kuwait, Ireland, Canada, and Guam.

Here are some of the more interesting to obnoxious ones:

"I was glad for the end of this KD; which said it would not
be the last one."

"You are one smart aleck _____!"

"Keep on keep on making us think."

"Thank you for the final paragraph. What would I do without my
moments of pondering, wrinkling my nose trying to decide, 'Is this
for real?'"

"I hate you for making me read your _____!"

"I'm surprised you're not getting paid for your _____
which is as bad as everybody else's."

"If you haven't figured it out, _____, you're not
going to be published by anyone related to mainline
denominations because you keep exposing the
nakedness of the empires."

"I'm so happy that you told me that it was a joke, and
I didn't have to challenge you to stop being so Presbyterian.
Presbyterians like to moan about everything while doing

"You scared me. Thought we were going to have to do
a suicide prevention intervention. I might not agree with
all that you say but I do like the way you say it."

"So the mental letter expressing thanks for your plain
spoken-ness (and occasional lack of it) as I read the
first part of your KD was deleted by the end. Carry on!"

"I nominate you for moderator!"

"You are a piece of _____!"

"I remember Willie Mays coming up to bat in a game against
the Dodgers. As he always did, he dug in. The catcher said,
'You do know that Drysdale is pitching?' Willie dug in anyway.
The first pitch nearly took his head off...A few years later, Willie
stepped in against another Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver. As usual,
he dug in. Seaver fires the first pitch and Willie goes down.
I guess some people never learn. Don't dig in against hard
throwers. Willie got up and hit the next one 450 feet. Seaver
never threw at him again...Willie never gave up and never gave in.
Did I mention he is in the Hall of Fame with a bunch of other
guys who never gave up and never gave in? I look forward to
the next KD."

"In the immortal words of Leslie Neilson in Airplane, 'Just
remember, we're all counting on you!' Hit 'em long, and
hit 'em straight!"

"Shut up and shut down? I don't think so! So unlike
you! Keep spreading the salt. Maybe we'll be stung
enough to do something for God's sake."

"You cannot stop! You care! You're not afraid of
the bastards!"

"I enjoy your political stuff; although I don't necessarily
agree. It gives my mind a badly needed workout. You
are letting the vocal minority get to you again. The hell
with them. Nobody is forcing them to read."

"Do you ever see Hagar? He yells charge and
people watch as he gets slaughtered. You remind
me of him. Keep charging! But don't be surprised
if your gutless colleagues just sit back and watch
you get slaughtered."

No wonder I can become so double-minded every now and then; which helps me to understand my mainline peers better.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

September 16, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


This will be the last edition of Kopp Disclosure.

My mom is right.

People don't want their pastors talking about politics, socioeconomics, and, gulp, the practical applications of Christianity as patterned by Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.

My dad is right.

People want pastors who agree with the last person they've talked to, end clauses and sentences with prepositions, and talk as vacuously as some political candidates so nobody knows what she or he believes about anything because people would rather stay the same or get worse than stretch to get better and want their pastors to agree with 'em about everything to justify...

Kurt Vonnegut was right: "People don't come to church for preachments, of course, but to daydream about God."

That fictional colonel was right: "People can't handle the truth!"

Or, at least, people don't want to wrestle with uncomfortable questions.

People want their pastors to be good humor women/men who tickle their infidelities and tell 'em how great they are no matter...

So I've decided to say a few more things; and then go out of business.

I'm not going to write anymore or preach anymore or try to lead anymore with substance because I'm tired of being second-guessed, maligned, scapegoated, and used as the object of transference for pathetic pathologies.

I've decided to join the pack of pastors who say nothing but say it nicely, pile up some more pension credits, accommodate infidelities, and drift away without a ripple.

I will concentrate on telling stories about Jonathan Livingston Seagull; saving my energies for my visits to the hospital and people in crisis who need the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about Jesus and His limitless love for them and know they don't have enough time for the lies which they wanted their pastors to tell 'em previously.

I'm shutting up and shutting down.


If you missed the opening skit on SNL (9/13/08), it was priceless!

Tina Fey out-Palined SP; and Amy what's-her-name caricatured HRC in ways that only her political enemies will appreciate.

If you missed it, you can probably catch it via www.youtube.com.

By the way, my sources tell me that TF spent so much time working on SP because all of the polls untainted by ideological bias reveal SP is gonna be the next President, uh, I mean...


A very gentle Methodist pastor in New Jersey who is a tad left of moi yet can wrestle with uncomfortable questions - What's that iron on iron quote? - is so upset about the politics of personal destruction.

While we disagree on who should get the keys to the White House - he's for the guy who says nothing eloquently and I'm for the guy who says a lot of stuff that really ticks me off which means we're both gonna roll the dice - we agree on the devolution of discourse, discussion, debate, and the like.

People are becoming so black and white on everything from the lionization of their favorite Presidential aspirant to the demonization of GWB, uh, I mean the other candidate to the labeling of the Patriots coach as the antichrist - Hmm, maybe! - that you can't hold a decent conversation with folks these days without somebody walking away in a huff or with a tail between the legs.


Everybody seems to want to argue because they're so right and everybody else is so wrong.

I don't.

I take the parable of the sower seriously.

I figure if I'm right, I don't need to argue.

I figure if I'm wrong, I look like a dolt if I do.

I've also figured out that people who aren't sure if they're right turn up the volume and start name-calling to prove they're right even though they're really not that sure anymore.

Or something like that.


When I was a little boy, I used to pray, "Jesus, please don't let an atom bomb fall on my head before I pitch for the Yankees, get my driver's license, and have sex."

Now I pray, "Jesus, I'm so surprised we haven't blown each other up yet because folks want to kill each other if a neighbor's dog poops in their yard; so thanks for giving us more time in spite of our hatreds for each other."

Go to a youth sports event sometime.


Well, this has been a real positive end to Kopp Disclosure.

Of course, I was just kidding in the opening section.

Or, at least, I was kidding about this being the last one.

I look forward to the letters thanking me for shutting down and shutting up which ain't gonna happen; which will prove people only want to read and hear, uh, what they want to read and hear.




Blessings and Love!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


You may have heard about the mainline cleric who said to a pro-lifer, "You're right!"

After the pro-lifer was out of sight and sound, she/he said to a pro-choicer (euphemism), "You're right!"

God thundered from the heavens at the cleric, "They can't both be right!"

The mainliner shouted back, "You're right!"


I thought JM and BHO are running for President; but Democrats talk more about GWB than JM and Republicans talk more about WJC than BHO.

Everybody's talking about SP!!!

Maybe it's because she is the only one who has clear convictions coupled with a consistent record of public service.


Can you reimagine what BHO and his buddies at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, ESPN, NYT, WP, RRS, WR, CV, CT, CST, PCUSA, et. al. would say if JM made a synonymous kinda slur about MO akin to his ditty on SP: "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig!"?

I used to say/think/hope BHO isn't as nutty as his buddies.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, he wasn't talking about SP.

Yeah, right!

Anyone who swallows those spins thinks an elephant is a mouse with glandular problems or is still smoking weed with Jimi and Janis playing in the background.

Isn't it amazing/frustrating/infuriating/bewildering/hallucinating to watch Democrats and Republicans lionize their own and demonize all others?

Of course, who said honesty has anything to do with politics?

It's like two women at a graveside. One says, "Well, here lies _____: a politician and an honest man." The other cries, "Isn't it awful how they buried both of them in one grave."


A studious fellah from Kansas City paraphrased the piggy comments of SP and BHO in a way that included ethnic slurs directed at BHO; which I will not quote because I'm not into ethnic jokes as a matter of, uh, Christian ethics.

Anyway, he wrote, "Do you think the comment I just made would elicit a claim of racism from the BHO campaign? I'm no prophet nor mind-reader, but as a hack writer, I have to think it was at least a mistake on BHO's part to grab part of the most notable analogy SP used in her acceptance speech, and re-use it in the way he did, without considering the way it would reflect on her personally. Ivy League academic pedigrees are no insurance against occasional cerebral flatulence...My gut feeling is that this was an effort to 'rapidly respond' to SP's analogy, and blunt its effect by grabbing it and trying to attach a new, less-pleasant evocation. A good campaign consultant would probably look at this and wince."


I talked with one of my favorite congregants who really, really, really likes BHO because he makes her/him feel good when he talks even though she/he admits he doesn't really say much while sounding so good; and she/he thinks he meant no disrespect to SP while invoking pigs.


But you can't have it both ways.

If he meant it, it's disgusting and betrays character not worthy of the White House.

If he didn't mean it, it means he's not very thoughtful in using analogies/metaphors that are as highly charged to women as some words are to ethnic groups.


Roll those dice!


Speaking of wincing, I saw a guy who left our family of faith not long after I arrived about three years ago because, uh, he hates me in a Christian kind of way because I kinda, uh, allowed him to expose himself and watched from the sideline.

Robustly, I called out his name, shook his hand, and smiled at him; genuinely happy to see him and hoping he'd gotten over me and, uh, himself.

He couldn't look me in the eyes, pulled his hand back as quickly as possible, and made a condescending grunt.


He hates me.

Aside from dad always cautioning me about people who can't look you in the eyes which usually betrays they're ashamed of something or hiding some really bad stuff or just don't like you and tell as many others about it as possible, I am always saddened by folks who put up a false front of soft-spoken charity as long as they're in emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lockstep with you.


Some people don't get that part about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus which includes graciousness even when you don't like 'em.

Like Democrats and Republicans who demand from others what we can't expect from them - things like, uh, honesty - you can't blame Jesus for some Christians who need some more Jesus in their lives.


BHO is the most vacuously eloquent of the four.

JM is almost as boring as AG.

JB and SP are more fun and fast on their feet.

BHO is the best orator with a prepared script.

JM is boring, uh, no matter what.

JB and SP are more fun and fast on their feet.

BHO is always gonna sound better than JM in the prepared speech department.

JM is boring but still does better than BHO without a script; which means BHO better be careful when the debates start; though his opening and closing remarks will say nothing but say it so beautifully and persuasively that his fans will be drooling with affection and rekindled allegiance and wondering how anyone could consider voting for GWB, uh, JM.

Actually, most folks would rather watch JB and SP than JM and BHO at this point.

JB and SP are more fun and fast on their feet.

But that's just my, uh, opinion.

I may be wrong.


Mainline clergy have a terrible habit of agreeing with the last person they've talked to, ending clauses and sentences with prepositions, and wondering why nobody takes them seriously anymore.


People they've talked to last end up talking to each other.

"You're right!"



Saying what you really think/believe saves time and memory.

Maybe I'm just gettin' older but I can't remember lies as well as the truth; and I've got to make up new lies to cover up for old lies and...

Truth never changes; or at least truth as you believe it.

If you keep your story straight regardless of the audience, people will trust you even if they don't like you; which is why people who don't like me or even hate me trust me more than the guy who I talked about earlier in this KD who eveeeeeeeeerrrrrrryyyyyybooooooodddddyyyy likes but don't trust.


People ask why I don't list KD recipients or cite sources.

If I list recipients, SPAMMERS pick up their addresses and start sending so many ED ads to 'em that they grow self-conscious; and, besides, lots of KD subscribers are like folks who read The Layman and watch porn and don't want to get caught.

If I cited sources, I wouldn't be able to tell you what's happening in those deep and dark corners where folks think they're meeting in secret to scheme stuff which is so antithetical to Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture; for people who squeal on 'em to me know they'd get, uh, screwed in a Christian kind of way if they exposed 'em (see, uh, again, John 3:19-21).

But, dang, you'd be surprised to see a list of my subscribers and sources.

I'm surprised.


Speaking of speaking out of both sides of your mouth, middle of the road mainliners better watch out!

Members of their congregations are writing to me; but while I'd never talk about anybody by name, folks are starting to talk in their congregations.


Walking down the middle of the road means you're gonna get hit by both sides sooner than later.

"You're right!"



Didn't Jesus say something about that?


As readers of Cave Canem will discover - those who read Fifteen Secrets already know but they're less than the attendance at a regular season White Sox game - I'm trying to move more and more and more into the light; because I grow very dim very quickly apart from, uh, light.


A subscriber wrote to an editor: "I have missed seeing _____'s stuff in popular print. I realize he's not everyone's favorite writer, but _____s are rarely popular with the faithless masses and self-perpetuating and self-righteous mainline membership, bureaucracies, and establishment. However, I believe people want to hear what he has to say. Many resonate with his thoughts even though they are afraid to say what he says. The powers-that-be continue to use their offices to intimidate and silence those who speak against their ways and wiles. My desire is that you or somebody else musters up the guts to counter their strong-arm intimidations by giving voice to others like him."

A member of another mainline franchise wrote, "I've been a Methodist all of my life; and I've never seen such disarray. Our DS has given us three pastors in a row who don't know Jesus from Jack or the Bible from The Prophet. I sense so much pain beneath your humor. I want you to know it's just as bad in our denomination; or, as you say, franchise. You must have a great congregation to put up with you."

Somebody who hates me like the guy mentioned earlier scolded, "Face it! You evangelicals have lost! We're going to take your property, money, and do to you what we did to Kenyon long ago! You can _____ and ______ all you want to! You're gone!"


Fortunately, Jesus wins in the end.

Uh, come, Lord Jesus!


And, yes, I am privileged to be the pastor of a faithful congregation in a faithful presbytery so far.

I love them and they kinda love me; but, most important, we love Jesus.

It's all about the, uh, election.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 9, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Here is a tribute to the late Dr. Donald Macleod who was Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics at Princeton until called home by Jesus; and even if you weren't one of his students, you may catch the drift.

Calling today's presbytery meeting to order, the moderator asked, "Shall we pray?"

Conditioned so well by one of my mentors, I thought, "Gee, I don't know. Maybe we can vote on it."


As I've written ad nauseum in reference to the irenic and redemptive spirit of my particular judicatory (Blackhawk Presbytery), I'm a lot more fortunate than friends and foes in other ecclesiastical governing bodies across franchise lines who live and minister amid open hostilities and hatred in a Christian kind of way.

Today's meeting provided another paradigm for the rest of 'em.

A solidly evangelical congregation in our presbytery (Aurora) hosted the meeting; and a network or affinity group or caucus or paradenominational or whatever else comes to mind to describe gatherings of folks who ain't official ministries of the franchise yet scream for our attention as if turning up the volume and forcing their way into our sight lines will convert us after all of this time issued this, uh, press release: "The Covenant Network Board in Blackhawk Presbytery, sensitive to the expressed attitudes of a significant group in First Presbyterian Church's membership, has decided not to display our resources at this church."

That's cool for two reasons.

First, in these times when our peace, unity, and purity are so precarious, only networks, affinity groups, caucuses, and paradenominationals looking to upset our peace, unity, and purity force themselves upon folks who aren't interested in hosting, accommodating, or enabling witnesses determined to be anathema to their witness.

Parenthetically, I would never expect some extreme left or right congregations to host, accommodate, or enable my favorites; unless, of course, I was trying to start a fight in a Christian kind of way.

Second, the precedent has been set; which means we don't have to host, accommodate, or enable 'em when presbytery meets in our church next May.

I applaud the Covenant Network of Blackhawk Presbytery for being sensitive to the witness of evangelical churches which believe their witness is anathema to Biblical Christianity as upheld by our constitution so far yet so precariously; and I promise we will not try to set up our booths in their churches even while we're praying...


Here's an alert from mainline new church developments!

Mainline new church development experts tell their new church development pastors to omit franchise labels like Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and the like from their names.

If you don't know why, you haven't been listening for the last few decades to ecclesiastical sociologists who've said we're smack dab in the middle of post-denominationalism.

Or as a friend and his session said to mainline executives when they visited the church and asked why they were changing their name and including no reference to the franchise after a collective guffaw: "If you have to ask, we're not going to be able to help you to understand."


I caught some of that bitter taste last Sunday.

We've started a satellite worship service about ten miles from the home site.

After a rousing worship service with commitments to continue and invite more folks, I spotted a woman who was looking at literature from our family of faith; and then she brought one piece to me with her finger pointing at the word Presbyterian.

Our less than an hour service was followed by almost another hour of conversation punctuated by contentious comments: "I'm not joining a Presbyterian church because they don't believe in the Bible...Are you here to start a Presbyterian church or just a worship service for real believers?...If you're trying to make Presbyterians, we won't be back...What are you trying to do?...You know the Presbyterians don't believe in Jesus or Biblical marriage...[etc., etc., etc.]."

I said we're not trying to start a Presbyterian church; and emphasized our home church sent me to help new friends experience saving intimacy with God through Jesus as enabled by the Holy Spirit.

A woman - I'll call her Amy because that's her name - said, "Then we'll be back!"


Like it or not, mainliners have a terrible reputation with Jesus-loving-Bible-believing people who are searching for a church home.

It's hard enough to get folks through the doors these days; which is why I talk more about Jesus than franchises.

Uh, isn't that...?


Quickly from the SP fan club!

After reading about Piper and Trig Palin and my 12 year old buddy in the last KD (9/4/08), a friend who I thought for sure would join our family of faith before now wrote, "Yeah, I know just how your 12 year old friend felt. _____ was adopted because her father also had another girl pregnant and married her not _____'s mom. I'm sure happy she's still around. And my folks got married after I was on the way. And I kind of think _____ is happy that I'm still around."

Go back to the last KD for the complete context.


Speaking of SP and how underwhelmed I've been about the other candidates, I'm looking for a campaign button kinda like this:


Actually, a friend sent a mock-up to me which she's gonna send again as a file attachment which I can send to you.


I know the preceding comes as a shock to my way left friends who think all relatively conservative crackers are gender chauvinists.


Truth is the way left and way right are ideological fundamentalists who forget there's always some space between white and black.


Maybe that's why name-calling never quite captures true character.


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

September 4, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Everybody's talking about SP's speech at the RNC last night.

The left is really nervous because she's energized the just left of middle to right in ways not witnessed since RR's trouncing of JC.

Though I've been predicting BHO can't win for over ten months because of his nutty buddies, an astonishing did-nothing record in the Illinois Legislature and Congress, the most-left-in-the-Senate voting record, and vacuous eloquence, my guess is SP guarantees JM's inauguration and the first female President within the next decade.


Personally, I like BHO a lot more than JM; and I think his responses to Bristol's pregnancy have punctuated his truly warm and gracious spirit.

If I were voting on personality alone, he'd get my vote for sure.

On the other hand, JM's personality grates against mine; and, forgive me, but he comes across as a fellah with a serious case of short man's disease.

But if I'm going to hand over the button to somebody, I'd like some record - O.K., SP has had only two years of executive experience which is still two years more than BHO and JB combined! - of personal and practical dids more than pontificating about shoulds and oughts.

As somebody coined long before me, we've got enough people shoulding on us.

So it comes down to this.

Are you gonna roll the dice and hope BHO can walk his talk or vote for somebody who has walked his talk?

BHO sounds great to me.

JM doesn't always sound great to me.

BHO hasn't walked his talk.

JM has walked his talk.

I've gotta decide if I'm feelin' lucky or go with a horse that doesn't always seem broken in pour moi.

Lord, have mercy on us!


Getting back to last night, SP reminds me of Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir; though she's a lot hotter.

I've already written (8/30/08) about the heart strings which are gonna pull in millions of more votes than JB ever got in his unsuccessful runs for President in his own party - Huckabee: "She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for President!" - and, honestly, she's the only one of the four vying for glory who generates any excitement in me for 11/4.

I've always believed the first female or minority President would herald traditional American values.

Yeah, I know she's not running for President; but you could have fooled me!


Getting away from politics to appease my mother, the most impressive moment in SP's speech last night for me wasn't her.

It was watching her 7 year old daughter Piper as she cradled her 4 month old baby brother Trig, moistened her hand with her tongue, and matted down his hair.

As I watched that scene which couldn't be staged, it hit me!

If SP had terminated the pregnancy of her Down syndrome son or ended his life after birth, JM's rival for the White House could have claimed credit for enabling it by one of the only parts of his voting record which has been consistent.


I'm a 99% pro-lifer.

That ticks off the pro-abortionists and pro-lifers.

Except for rape, incest, health, age, or something so extraordinarily exceptional that it's, uh, exceptional, I've just never heard a rationalization for abortion that wasn't selfish and antithetical to the humble, selfless, and sacrificial love ethic of Jesus.

And I've had practical pastoral experience with that 1% through tears, desperate prayers for guidance, and ultimate dependence upon His mercy for all involved.

I may be wrong; but I'm a 99% pro-lifer.


It is, for me, kinda like those incredibly inane debates about predestination and volition.

The Bible says we're predestined yet free to choose.

I find comfort in the former and responsibility in the latter.

You figure out the paradox and convince everybody else and you get a car on Oprah's next show!


When I was in an egghead program in college, we debated Daniel Callahan's Abortion: Law, Choice, and Morality.

The discussion turned into a debate and someone suggested abortion is a good way to prevent child abuse and unwanted children (e.g., children with Down syndrome).

Bill shot back, "I was placed in foster homes because my biological parents beat me nearly to death on several occasions. Are you saying it would have been better for me to have been aborted? You've got a lot of nerve to say I'd prefer to have been aborted if I could have made the choice which you seem so ready to make for me and children like me! Well, I've survived and I'm happy you weren't around and in charge of determining who should live and who should die! Did it ever occur to you how arrogant you are?"


Recalling and slightly paraphrasing some lyrics from Bob Seger, I'm "a little bit older and a lot less bolder than I used to be."

I shade more than shout the truth these days because I've got bills to pay and mouths to feed and I don't feel like moving anymore.

Though I still don't agree with the last person I've talked to like too many peers, I don't always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to everyone because, as Colonel Jessup said, some people can't handle the truth; preferring to live in the la-la land of auto-suggestion and Biblical revisionism to prevailing ideologies.

I take the slow, steady, and, I pray, solid route these days.

But when I was more imbalanced on the tough-minded ("wise as...") than tenderhearted ("gentle as...") side of prophetic/pastoral ministry which was about 25-30 years ago before Visa became a major player in my life and, uh, ministry, I received this letter (handwritten):

Dear Dr. Kopp,

It's a little late, but I loved last week's sermon.
My mom almost stood up on the pew and screamed

Thanks for giving her a heart attack!

George (12 yrs. old)

P.S. You didn't give her a heart attack, but I'm
glad you spoke against abortion because I'm

It hangs in my study.

When I'm playing ecclesiastical politician more than prophet/pastor, I have a hard time looking at it.


Paul Swedlund, one of my two best friends in seminary, fell off a mountain in Colorado and died on August 17, 1994.

He was a 99% pro-lifer; and explained why shortly before going home to Jesus:

Abortion is the taking of the life of a
child who God knows and loves...

The only difference between the
children who cause your eyes to
sparkle when you see them in church
and children in the womb is that you
can't see the children in the womb.

But God does!

And to God, there is no difference
between those in the womb and those
already born.

Whenever I think of my spiritual heroes - Saint Francis, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Pope John XXIII, The Rev. Harold F. Mante,
The Rev. Paul E. Swedlund, and the like - I can't imagine any one of them being anything less than 99% pro-life.

That's not to mention Jesus who isn't mentioned when...


I'm not a big fan of JB, JM, or BHO; but I will honor any of 'em if elected and pray His best for 'em.

I really like SP; but I'm sure she's not really as hot as I think right now.

I am praising God for Piper and Trig.

They've reminded me of what's so easily forgotten when loves grows, uh, tepid.


Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September 3, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Here's a good joke.

The Democrats are saying SP doesn't have enough experience to be a heart beat away from the hot seat and the Republicans are saying BHO doesn't have enough experience to be banging the drum.

I'm reminded of two favorite sentences from my favorite political satirist: "The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it" (P.J. O'Rourke).

Or as somebody said, "Assuming that either the left wing or the right wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles."


My favorite writers are Frederick Buechner, P.J. O'Rourke, Apostle Paul, and Kurt Vonnegut.

The third one doesn't count because he got lots of help from God.

And I'm gonna need a lot of help from God after confessing the first sentence.


I'm reminded of Picasso's response to criticism of his abstractions: "When I was twelve, I could paint like Raphael. It took years before I could paint like this."


In a book which I wrote but nobody buys even though www.amazon.com sells it so much cheaper than any of those books on the expansive foreign policy experiences of BHO and SP, I said, "If you think you've arrived, it's time to start over."

It's like golf.

When you think you've finally found the secret, you play as poorly as I did on Labor Day.


I need Jesus to save me because I'm never quite up to His standards.

That's why we talk about grace being more important than law in the end.

Or as a buddy likes to say, "I sin. God saves. What a great deal!"


I thought about that when a pastor in Florida who I really like but who can't stand me wrote to tell me to stop being so judgmental about stuff which I believe is anathema to Christianity as patterned by Jesus and prescribed in the Bible.

I thanked him for reminding me of what I believe as noted in the previous section of this KD.

But my shortcomings should never be considered license or cause to compromise on His standards as, uh, patterned in Jesus and prescribed in the Bible.


Humility is knowing we're not as good as momma says nor as bad as my critic points out.

Humility is also praying and working to get better as, uh, patterned by Jesus and prescribed in the Bible.

And that means, as Ernie Campbell always liked to point out, "The Bible is bigger than our favorite parts."


For example, people who advocate what is clearly anathema to Biblical Christianity as, uh, patterned by Jesus and prescribed in the Bible and upheld by even mainline denominations need to remember the Bible has always been considered the manual of faith and morality in Christendom even when it contradicts their fallen proclivities and practice.

Likewise, people who advocate, uh, burning folks at the stake whose behavior is clearly anathema to Biblical Christianity need to remember the overwhelming witness of the Bible on discipline is redemptive rather than punitive.

In other words, Christianity is not defined by our feelings but by the revelations of His will in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.


And, fortunately, in the end, that means we're gonna get in not because of how good we are but because of how graciously great He is.

Let me put it another way - a way which really ticks off anal theologians: "You can be right about everything yet wrong about Jesus and you're in a lot of trouble; but you can be wrong about everything yet right about Jesus and you'll live happily ever after."

Thank You, Jesus.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

September 2, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I played some of my best rounds (golf) in June, some decent ones in July and August, and the worst one in two years on Labor Day.

Having preached on Luke 14:15-24 on the day before and focusing on the lame excuses made for distancing ourselves from intimacy with our Lord, I cannot bring myself to rationalize my awful play as resulting from giving away a driver which I should have kept and can't afford anymore because of the Caliber deal, taking two tablets of Aleve after three Advils just an hour before teeing off, and sharing a cart with a guy who would accuse John Daly of slow play.


Total depravity strikes again!

I just, uh, stunk.

I was as bad as the Bears have been throughout the preseason.


I was awful.

Truth is I've been awful before; and I'll be awful again.

I'm so, uh, human.


I thought of a few lines from Henri J.M. Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus which a liberal friend who is really quite conservative brought to my attention again after reading about my experiences with Special Olympians: "The more willing I was to look honestly at what I was thinking and saying and doing now, the more easily I would come into touch with the movement of God's Spirit in me, leading me to the future."

I read it back in 1989.

It chronicles the transition of Nouwen from Notre Dame/Yale/Harvard Professor to priest for the mentally challenged: "I began to ask myself whether my lack of contemplative prayer, my loneliness, and my constantly changing involvement in what seemed most urgent were signs that the Spirit was gradually being suppressed...So I moved from Harvard to L'Arche, from the best and the brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of society."

It makes sense only now.


An honest estimate of self.

Dumping garbage before others dig it up.

1 John 1.


Though I cannot begin to articulate what I'm feeling, my love for Jesus is deepening in increasingly tough-minded and tenderhearted ways; or as Nouwen described his transition, "I was starting my life all over again."

"I am telling you all this," he, uh, disclosed, "because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self."

But I was trained to be a leader and mover and shaker...

Obviously, until now, Jesus did not train me: "Jesus' first temptation was to be relevant: to turn stones into bread."


I want bestsellers to pay my bills, give lots away, put some away for the boys, pay for what will not be funded by those who have but hoard, and be known for knowing Him.

Nouwen's counterpoint: "Look at Jesus. The world did not pay any attention to Him. He was crucified and put away. His message of love was rejected by a world in search of power, efficiency, and control."

I want to make a difference for Jesus; but Nouwen contends, "The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?...In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred...It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer consolation and hope...Very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits."


I never understood Jesus on the cross until that last line in the previous section: "Very few people know that they are loved without any conditions or limits."

He said, "Father, forgive them. They're ignorant."

My paradigm shifts and my sense of justice fractures; for He forgave before confession and repentance.

He elected them though they did not vote for Him.


I asked a friend whose counsel is important to me why people are so afraid of, uh, just about everything.

He answered, "We live in one of the most fearful generations in history...Fear feeds and grows on the loss of connection with God's grace as the primary relationship in life. When we lose sight of this foundation, this root, this radical, this fundamental, then we are contentious in our fears. We take over where the Lord really does better than us. In so doing, we lead all kinds of coordinated armies and attacks against the Church of Jesus Christ; because we don't trust Him enough to change the hearts of our brothers and sisters."

He has many more things to say about fearful attitudes causing fearful actions which fracture the fabric of church and society; and, basically, he concurs with Nouwen, "When we know the heart of Jesus which is the same as loving Him, we cannot do other than bring healing, reconciliation, new life and hope wherever we go. The desire to be relevant and successful will gradually disappear, and our only desire will be to say with our whole being to our brothers and sisters of the human race, 'You are loved. There is no reason to be afraid.'"


I've believed, for as long as I can remember, the solutions to our divisions are through Jesus.

Nouwen: "Dealing with burning issues without being rooted in a deep personal relationship with God easily leads to divisiveness because, before we know it, our sense of self is caught up in our opinion about a given subject. But when we are securely rooted in personal intimacy with the source of life, it will be possible to remain flexible without being relativistic, convinced without being rigid, willing to confront without being offensive, gentle and forgiving without being soft, and true witnesses without being manipulative.

"For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future," he concluded, "a movement from the moral to the mystical is required."


"The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led," he observed.

The need to win over the command to love is at the core of all contentions.

Again, I go to the cross: "Father, forgive them. They're ignorant."


I think it was William Barclay who said, "God is much more forgiving than people."

While we're always trying to figure out the formula, He's inviting, welcoming, including, and loving 'em back into the family.

While we're always denigrating those whose goose-stepping ain't in synch with us, He's embracing and granting grace-filled dispensations which defy our much less than divine definitions of value and eligibility.

I'm a lot more thankful for Jesus than those who are always trying to figure out who qualifies for His limitless love.



Blessings and Love!