Sunday, November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Democrats and Republicans share a despicable common denominator; lionizing their own and demonizing all others.

Years of providing pre/mid/post-marital care and counseling have convinced me that there are three sides to every story: our side, their side, and the truth.

That's why KDs publish so many contentions with, uh, me.

I don't pretend to know everything.

I'm wrong on lots of stuff; as my parishioners and subscribers are so increasingly quick to point out.

My only non-negotiable is Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.

I'm with my first mentor, The Rev. Harold F. Mante (R.I.P.), who always urged in private as well as from the pulpit, "Think about it!"

Stop being such a mindless drone who follows the dictates of anybody pretending authority approaching His!

Think about it!

Of course, if you're not into thinking, you can become a Democrat, Republican, or join a personality cult (e.g., Joel, Rick, SP, PBHO) or corporate cult like one of those jingoistic mainliners which are trying so hard to exorcise dissent from their practical constitutions.

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In a related story, Rosie O'Donnell wants to have a beer with Sarah Palin.

Coincidentally, Rosie is gonna have a new show on NBC; starting on 11/26 (same day as KD son Daniel's birthday) and she's already booked Alanis Morissette who is so much hotter than SP.

I'm not surprised that NBC put Rosie back on the air; for she can now team up with Keith Ubermacht and Rachel Maddening to provide a clear contrast to Biblical Christianity and traditional American values.

Anyway, I guess Rosie has changed her mind about SP being "Harriet Miers with a better ___." Now she says, "I'd like to meet her kids. She seems like a pretty nice woman. Although I have to say I am thrilled her party did not win...I think I probably would like her."

Ratings.

Don't be too quick to interpret the previous word/paragraph.

Everybody's into ratings.

Think about it.

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A confession.

Republicans demonized PBHO for many reasons during Election 2008; including his intention to sit down with bad guys "without conditions" to see if there's any common ground for the welfare of humankind in a can't-we-all-just-get-along kinda way.

I've been, uh, thinking - and if you haven't, return to the website of your favorite mainline denomination or political party - and praying and even trying to look at that through the eyes of Jesus; and I don't remember Jesus making pre-conditions for sharing gospel and, as the Psalmist said, "pursuing" peace.

Besides, I meet with all kinds of people without pre-conditions as a pastor, professor, police chaplain...

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In a related story which is breaking now that Election 2008 is history regardless of what happens in Minnesota, PBHO met three times with Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson while on the campaign trail for private talks.

You may remember the bishop. He's the gay guy whose lover is living in the manse with him; sparking schism among Episcopalians.

Be that as it is, the bishop says, "The first words out of his mouth were, 'Well, you're certainly causing a lot of trouble.' My response to him was, 'Well, that makes two of us.'"

Chummy.

Here we go!

Despite the efforts of Mormons, African-Americans, sidelined Christians, orthodox Jews, and American traditionalists in California, same-sex marriage is about to be "decreed" in the USA; and watch for mainline ecclesiastical bureaucracies to horrify their constituents and then wonder why their $ is drying up by joining 'em with amici curiae.

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Because I'm not afraid to think about what ticks me off, I go to way left and way right and nauseatingly moderate and all kinds of websites and news sources so I'm not blind-sided by contentions to Biblical Christianity.

I'm even on subscription lists for groups like www.moveon.org; not because I subscribe to their ideologies but because I just want to know what they're, uh, thinking as I try to, uh, think about issues that they're, uh, thinking about.

I got this one which is kinda related to the previous section of this KD: "Along with our tremendous excitement over PBHO's victory, a lot of us are sad and angry about a different election result - the passage of Proposition 8, which reversed marriage equality and wrote discrimination into the California Constitution...The Courage Campaign (which does MoveOn-style organizing in California) is working with other groups on a two-year grassroots plan to overturn Prop 8 in the 2010 election."

Again, watch the mainliners!

I'll bet they'll be moving on with 'em as more and more of their members move on without 'em.

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In a barely related story, 60s terrorist William Ayers was quoted in The Chicago Tribune, uh, after Election 2008, again, describing himself as a "family friend" of PBHO.

I'm having a hard time figuring all of this out.

PBHO is not as tight with Jeremiah Wright as JW broadcasts and not as tight with William Ayers as WA, uh, I guess, pretends.

Someone is not telling the truth.

It won't be long before another trouble-maker like Alan Keyes comes along and says PBHO wasn't born in the USA in an effort to, uh, whatever...

Oops.

I know Democrats don't want to, uh, think about that as much as Republicans don't want to, uh, think about just about anything happening for the first time.

Personally, I don't care if he was born in the USA - Here comes Arnold! - or if he hangs out with sinners like Jesus did as long as he just sets the record straight one way or the other.

I don't have to agree with someone to trust 'em; or as I've leaned, listening and agreeing aren't the same thing.

I want to trust PBHO; but if he can't tell the truth about little things...

Please, Mr. President, just tell the truth about those relationships so we can trust you as you try to relate your hopes for...

I know how it goes.

I've got lots of weird relationships.

I'm a pastor in a mainline denomination.

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Speaking of pastors, the last KD which didn't wrap up Pastor Appreciation Month provoked contentions.

Pastors really liked it.

Pewsitters didn't.

Personally, I don't care either way; because, uh, remember, KDs are about thinking not necessarily agreeing in a Christian kinda way.

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Let's start with a blast at KD from Illinois: "I have no idea what % of your readers are pastors or pewsitters, and I know your sense of humor and enjoy it most of the time. But if you have a lot of people in the latter category, you might want to make sure they know you are kidding when you say things like this: 'I think some folks reimagine there's a sign in front of the church that says, 'Don't worry about making an appointment to see me. I ain't doin' nothin' anyhow'...Psst...That is true for some pastors who don't do anything until it catches up with 'em; and then they just move to the next...'"

Continuing, "You have no more important job than to be available for the Pearls of the world [go back to the last KD for context]...Instead of looking at what she's griping about, why not ask Jesus to reveal why she's really there and make an attempt to soften her heart?...Perhaps she told you about her son because she was looking for someone to talk to about her estranged relationship with him...I'm sure you already know that but it doesn't come through in your KD...I'm equally sure that pastors will appreciate your humor more than I did."

Good word, dudette! Obviously, I did not communicate the concern very well. Pearl, though very real nearly 25 years ago, is a metaphor for the inconsequential stuff keeping pastors from the consequential matters of ministry. Yes, her "concern" was bait for a greater concern; and, yes, pastors should teach pewsitters that they will not play those games. I recall a woman who had the hots for me who complained about the liturgy just to get my attention. Pastors need to make it clear that they have all the time in the world for people with real issues; but they will not play guessing games to get at them. Yes, yes, yes, it would be nice if we had all the time in the world to play such games; but honest to God pastors don't have time to play games because serious pastoral ministry in our culture is filled with opportunities to do exactly what you herald. Let me put it another way. All church/disciple growth experts say pastors/elders should spend most of their time with ripe rather than green apples. It's another metaphor. There's only so much time, friend. Quoist has taught me to pray, "I am not asking You today, Lord, for time to do this and then that, but Your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that You give me, what You want me to do."

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I went to see a woman who left our family of faith about ten years ago.

Her first words to me: "I don't like the institutional church."

My first words to her in response: "I'm not especially fond of it either."

Now we meet once a week, talk about Jesus, don't blame Him for the church, and pray and labor to love Him by loving like Him as attested in Holy Scripture.

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From Virginia: "I love pastoral ministry. It's the church I can't stand."

You've got lots of company, padre! Too much pastoral ministry today is ecclesiastical babysitting; pacifying hedonisms and coaxing folks to take membership/ordination promises seriously as if it were a choice instead of a compelling call. Truth is too many members/officers/pastors didn't understand the membership/ordination questions, lied when answering, or have changed their minds and don't have the integrity to demit.

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A New Jersey pastor's prayer: "May we survive to preach another day; or go home to the Lord!"

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From Maryland: "We have a ___ train here with their gifts of discouragement, backbiting, and negativity. What a sad and pathetic group...I confronted them...I have to admit it felt sooooo good...I thought I'd hear about it. Nary a word was said."

In other words, braveheart, the flock appreciated the undershepherd's protection!

He went on, "I will tell you what really ___ me off...those people who say they love me and support me and appreciate my ministry, who, when they hear all kinds of crap voiced, do not stand up and contradict it and speak in support of their pastor. Instead, they come to me in my office or take me aside in a hall or buy me lunch or a cup of coffee and tell me how bad they feel that this stuff is going on and they just want me to know how much they support me and disagree with the troublemakers...I used to thank them...Now I thank them and tell them how much I appreciate what they have to say, but note that telling me privately doesn't help the situation. That if they really want to do something positive and supportive that actually makes a difference, I'd prefer that they challenge the gossip and vitriol...I am still holding my breath...Actually, I am not. I realized it is a lost cause and just breath normally...As much as it pains me to know this, I find it hard to love them and pour out my life for them as I did the first 10 or 15 years of ministry...Because, in the end, when the bad guys want to destroy you, it doesn't matter how much good you've done or time you've invested in their lives as they will discount it all and find a way to get you. And the good guys will stand by, wringing their hands and telling you privately that they are on your side; while doing nothing to stand in the gap and discipline the unruly."

Sigh. Selah. Unfortunately, you're right on. When preachers die on Sunday, churches have ham and cole slaw in fellowship hall on Wednesday, and then elect another pastor search committee in hopes of finding a successor better than the predecessor. It's the truth and every preacher knows it. O.K., there are a few exceptions. Very few. That's why pastoral ministry must be about Jesus alone; because He's all there is in the meantimes as well as in the end.

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From a front pew in Kansas City: "The Church is not a place where people whose thinking is in conflict with truth should feel the least bit comfortable. Your job is to equip the saints and not facilitate others in equipping the heathen!...The bottom line is most modern believers, even the church-going types, don't know their butts from a hole in the ground when it comes to the important doctrines of the Church. They know so little about the Bible. They can't even locate John 3:16...Pastors need to counter what the world teaches with more than three points and a poem...Teach them about Jesus and keep the lies out of the building."

Please send your letter of transfer to our family of faith at...

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Getting back to a big part of the real problem, an executive presbyter, which is kinda like a bishop in theory and really like a bishop in practice, scolded me about 20 years ago, "You've got to stop telling people about problems in the denomination. Your responsibility is to tell them that everything is fine. If you tell them what's really going on, they'll get upset and won't send in their money to support us. I know we've got problems. You know we've got problems. But people in the pews don't need to hear about them."

I haven't paid attention to that counsel.

I defended a candidate for ordination who was evangelical and did not go to a franchise seminary about 30 years ago: "Actually, there are more Reformed theologians at his seminary than our denominational seminaries. Can anyone sitting in this meeting honestly say his seminary doesn't do a better job of preparing pastors than our denominational seminaries?"

A synod executive, which is kinda like a bishop of presbytery executives in theory but more like an abstinence counselor at a rap concert in practice, confronted me after the meeting and shouted, "That's exactly why you'll never get anywhere in our denomination."

I haven't.

It's become something of a spiritual merit badge.

Go back to the first section.

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Blessings and Love!

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