Sunday, December 20, 2009

December 20, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Francis Schaeffer often spoke/wrote of joy as the distinguishing "mark" of people who know Jesus; or as Barnhouse often concluded, "If you aren't joyful - I mean radiantly and abundantly joyful - you, obviously, have no idea of what God has done for you in Jesus!"

That's why I like the videos at the bookends of today's KD; reminding me of the joy of life in Him with His.

Candidly, there are two kinda folks that I don't trust with much: cranky churchgoers because you can't be close to Jesus and be predominantly cranky and irregular worshipers because worship aligns the heart with Him and His and if they ain't aligning their hearts with Him and His...


Speaking of joy, Christmas is only a few days away; and if you haven't clicked on our amazon connection to buy...

One of my closest covenant brothers was telling me about going to amazon to buy gifts for his family; and when I asked if he was shopping through us, he said he wasn't because he didn't want to add anything to the price!

Can you believe it?

First, it means he has been ignoring our consistent references to just the opposite! If you buy through us, there are no extra charges and we get a kick-back!

Second, it means he...


BTW, you can buy lots of other stuff via amazon.

End of commercial...and end of KD for 2009.

This is the last edition of KD until 1/2/10.

Kathie is on vacation and I'm too technologically illiterate to...

Before signing off to the cheers of tight wineskins from left and right of all ideological persuasions, I've got the results from a little survey on Christmas wish lists and 2009's WOM (i.e., woman/other/man) of the year.

Also, there's a really neat opportunity included at the end of this KD.


Parenthetically, without interpretation, there were only 317 responses to the survey on Christmas wish lists and only 81 nominations for WOM; and, surprisingly, without interpretation, lots of folks seem to be on the same ideological/inspirational/indigestional wave length 'cause they're wishin' and nominatin' on the same...



Christmas Wish Lists

Florida (clergyman): "The parousia, a single term for Obummer, king-size bottle
of single malt, 25% raise to make up for years of under-compensation, and
a sabbatical."

Ohio (lawyer): "Revival!"

Illinois (cop): "A new set of golf clubs...For someone to give me a good
reason why every time I show up to a domestic situation where I
hear both parties complain that they have no money to pay for
their bills and expenses, they are both highly intoxicated, have
cigarettes in their hands or mouth, and some sort of narcotic
on them. They can afford alcohol and drugs; but they don't
have the common sense to wake up and say, 'The root of the
problem is me.'"

Indiana (church treasurer): "Hearts so suffused with the love of
the Christ child that we may reflect that love to a world that
is shrouded in darkness."

Florida (widow): "Christmas gifts are for children, not adults. At my
age, there is nothing I need or want that money can buy."

Utah (church planter): "To live in a state without so many morons.
Yes, that's an intentional misspelling!"

Ohio (clergywoman): "A Cincinnati football coach with some loyalty;
and a journalist with guts to 'out' those hypocrites in South Bend."

Illinois (clergyman): "I've just got one this year. That a young mother
in our church who has been in ICU for three weeks will be healed
so she can return to her family. Please pray for her!"

Illinois (businessman): "This is easy! Cubs in the World Series and
me getting a hole-in-one!"

Illinois (two teachers): "A cure for diabetes!"

Illinois (moi): "An anonymous gift to pay off my plastic!"

Pennsylvania (photojournalist): "I wish...PBHO would be impeached,
Nancy Pelosi would develop engine trouble at 30,000 feet, Barney
Frank would stop using condoms, Harry Reid could grow a brain,
Congress would take a Finance 101 course, taxpayers would be
appreciated, illegal immigrants would go home, American ideals
would trump fashion, Muslims would realize what love accomplishes
and hate destroys, and, really, really, really aside from my lame
attempts at humor, Jesus would come back soon!"

Pennsylvania (clergyman): "An Acts 2 health care bill."

Texas (clergyman): "That the majority world Church would re-evangelize
the western Church beginning with my church."

Illinois: (clergyman): "Less death and illness, scholarship for my
oldest, stable staff, and calorie-free genuine chocolate treats."

Pennsylvania (dad): "I wish all elected officials understood they
are employees not employers."

Illinois (IT guy): "Restored faith for those who have fallen away,
that we can get out of this crazy recession, that I can be
a positive influence for youth, that I can see the good in
people who are so nasty, and a new vehicle would be

Illinois (moi): "My latest book to be published with sales
at just 1% of Rick Warren's so I can buy my wife a
new van, send Kathie and her main squeeze to Hawaii,
pay for our church expansion by myself, and buy a
Road King (in that order)!"

Ohio (clergyman): "Deeper relationships, time to indulge
my hobbies, read, travel, and a light blue Sebring

New Jersey (elder): "A pastor with the guts to clean off
the membership roll of all the people who worship
once or twice a year and who have nothing good to say
about the church but are so demonic that they stay
on the membership roll! We need a pastor who will
exorcise such evil from our church!"

Oklahoma (clergywoman): "Peace on earth, love as He loves,
safety for those who serve Him in perilous places, resources
for faithful churches, churches that really care for the
destitute, lonely, poor, and lost."

Illinois (librarian): "People in churches with the integrity and
humility of Jesus."

Illinois (retired teacher): "Miraculous healing for my daughter
and, of course, peace in the world."

Illinois (retired teacher): "Every elected official in the country find
themselves compelled for six months to make no decision
that is not the best for their constituency and the country and
that they cannot speak one word of untruth and gag on every lie."

Connecticut (bored homemaker): "Dinner with KD!"

Wisconsin (clergywoman): "Women in ministry who don't embarrass

Oregon (clergyman): "Cigar humidor, peace on earth, and winning
the lottery!"

Texas (teacher/coach): "I wish parents were banned from high school
sporting events."

California (PR specialist): "Clergy who remember who He is and
then walk the talk!"

Iraq (chaplain): "Someone in the White House who has a clue!"

Germany (chaplain): "A third party before the country completely goes
to hell!"

Illinois (moi): "I pray your Christmas and new year are filled with
the love and joy of Jesus in all things at all times in all places
with all people!"



WOM of the Year

Illinois (clergyman): "I can't think of anyone who exemplified integrity this year."

Illinois (businessman): "Phil! Unlike Tiger, he showed dedication to family
and sport!"

California (insurance manager): "Anyone who unseats Harry Reid asap!"

Maryland (construction worker): "All the heroes have fallen - Tiger, Obama,
and Congress. How about Tim Tebow?"

Pennsylvania (newspaperwoman): "Sarah Palin! She lost the election but
won the hearts of America!"

New York (CEO): "Beck! For disliking both parties and having common sense!"

New Jersey (retired nurse): "Anyone who's not related to NBC!"

Virginia (teacher): "It's got to be President Bush because everybody keeps
blaming him for everything even after a year. Maybe it's a diversionary
tactic so America doesn't have to deal with its big mistake last year!"

Michigan (social worker): "President Obama is saving America! He is
the Man of the Century! If allowed, he will save the world!"

Illinois (youth worker): "Your family for showing your church and
community what it means to make room in your inn for the Lord
and His children! You have shut the mouths of those idiots who
have big mouths but don't walk the talk! Your wife is special!"

Alabama (saleswoman): "Sarah Palin because she's beautiful, smarter
than anyone believes, courageous, and scares the ___ out of
those ___holes in the Democratic and Republican parties."

Illinois (teacher): "Everyday people, not politicians or sports stars, but
people who do something despite difficulty...the officer who shot the
maniac at Fort Hood...the captain of the plane that landed safely on friend who is fighting friend who is raising
four children on his own because no law can convince his ex to stop
drinking...I am also adding them to my Christmas wish list: to have
the courage and dedication and determination that these people show
so effortlessly."

Pennsylvania (dad): "Michelle Malkin who isn't afraid of the machine!"

Illinois (retired teacher): "American combat troops who serve for us and
those who can no longer serve because of injuries or death."

Oklahoma (clergywoman): "Oral Roberts - a visionary who ushered in a
great move of God...RRK - a visionary who can see people as God sees
them and who is relevant to the times and issues we face."

Ohio (clergyman): "Nobody! No one is that great! But if you insist: Me!
Because it would look good on my resume."

Illinois (clergyman): "Mart Greene of Hobby Lobby who has helped turn
around my alma mater (ORU)."

Texas (clergyman): "Abby Johnson - hands down - the Director of Planned
Parenthood in College Station, Texas who walked away from the job
and career after watching an abortion and has now become pro-life
and is public about it."

Several States (multiple vocations): "Jesus!...No one deserves pedestal
status but Jesus...If it were not for Jesus, everything and everybody
who have gone to hell by now!"


Really Neat Opportunity

One of my two favorite devotional writers has just published The Father's Heartbeat which breaks through denominational boundaries from the gates of heaven!

You can order a copy via!

I haven't been as probed, prompted, persuaded, and peace-filled since being introduced to OC's My Utmost for His Highest.


My other favorite devotional writer - you can sign on via - wrote on 12/15/09, "Jesus is a babe in the manger no longer."

I thought about that while reading about the Florida man who was freed on 12/17/09 after 35 years in prison after DNA evidence exonerated him.

When asked how he felt after being the victim of such an injustice that stole his youth, the now 54 year old replied, "I'm not angry because I've got God!"

It goes back to the first section of this KD.

Cranky, contentious, contemptuous, cruel, and otherwise unChristlike people just don't have God in 'em!

I talked about that with a fellah over coffee after today's great day of worship led by our chancel choir (viz., cantata).

He talked about somebody on the fringe of our family of faith who is evil-speaking about everyone in the church because she/he is, uh, that way naturally.

When asked what to do, I said, "Remove yourself from her/his presence before you catch it! Life is too short to hang out with such a negative person who is always so right about everything!"

Jesus is not in that kinda person because such behavior is so anti-Christ!!!

Romans 16:17-18 comes to mind.

"Besides," I continued, "have you noticed nobody seems to care that she's/he's gone? That's a clue!"

People who love Jesus by loving like Jesus worship, work, and witness with people who love Jesus by loving like Jesus.

Yeah, we try to evangelize the, uh, others.

But, nah, you can't www with 'em because it's not all about Jesus with 'em; and that's a helluva way to, uh, be.



I pray your Christmas and all years are filled with the joy of Jesus!

If you already know Him, you've got it!

If not, then not.

If so, then so.

He shows!


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

December 17, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Tony Campolo is my friend.

Before you accuse me of dropping names to impress you while acknowledging I'm not above that 'cause I've got lots of 'em to drop, dropping Tony's hasn't endeared me to friends on the right side of the aisle ever since he hung out with our current Secretary of State's husband and defended his wife Peggy's passion for loving everybody even if they don't fly straight.

Unlike people who only like folks who agree with 'em - a trait which does not distinguish people who love like Jesus to love Jesus - I've got friends from all corners of the Kingdom and even some on the outside with no exceptions except Red Sox fans.

O.K., I'll confess.

My favorite black son and high school AD are Boston fans.

It's so hard to dislike people if you really get closer to Jesus.

Getting back to Tony, I'll never forget when he revealed the secret of unity to me: "If you share a passion for a common mission, your bond will be impregnable."



Our marriage was weakening.

While I haven't, uh - How did Tiger put it? - uh, "transgressed" against my wife in over a decade in, uh, geez, snap, that kinda way, my wife gave a hint about the growing distance in her annual Christmas letter: "He is...available for anyone, anytime" (click on "Leslie's Christmas Letter" or go to to see the whole thing).

Let's just say I'm involved in lots of high maintenance ministries in addition to being a workaholic.

That movie in the clip above was helpful; but it wasn't until we came together in common mission that our bond hardened as well as deepened if you know what I mean.

Expanding the wineskin of our family to include another son refreshed His best in us for each other and others.

Campolo was/remains right.


Admittedly, my wife has an extraordinary way of simplifying things.

When I asked why somebody who I had always esteemed and encouraged really left the church, she said, "He wanted to control you. He wanted you to be his best friend."

She was right.


My wife's insight/discernment is why I'm always dissing PBHO, Huckaboo, preachers, professors, and anyone else climbing or being pushed/pulled/prodded up those pedestals.

Aside from a few commandments that deal with it directly as more of a precaution than proscription, human heroes are just not divine enough to live up to the unrealistically diviner expectations of folks who want gods with skin on.

Tiger comes to mind.

A very wise slightly older than moi woman wrote to me, "Perhaps we indulge in a little schadenfreude when we think of his problems."


That's why Jerry Springer, Maury, and the like have such popular shows.

Lots of folks feel better about themselves by observing the miseries of others.

I think there's been so much jealousy and racism revolving around Tiger that sickos couldn't wait to see his humanity exposed; regardless of the pain that it has caused his wife, children, and fans who idolized him.

That's why I diss the aforementioned and insist, "It's all about Jesus."

He's the only hero worth worshiping.

Of course, He was crucified; which takes me back to...


I watch a lot of high school football games with an elder because he knows a lot about the sport and, well, uh, geez, I just like him.

Anyway, I'll never forget a game last fall when he said while pointing to different fans, "He left our church about 25 years ago...She used to be really active; but left about 20 years ago...15 years ago...10 years ago...since you came!"

God knows I know he knows they know people leave churches for lots of really, really, really spiritually/selfishly stupid reasons. Usually, they don't get their way about something or there's a change that their wineskin ain't big enough to handle or they fall out of love with Jesus which is proven by their falling out of love/communion with His body the church or...

It's wrong; and some folks just can't seem to help themselves from digging those holes deeper and...

Be that as it is with no resemblance to what Jesus had in mind, a story form the Kirk (Church) of Scotland comes to mind.

A fellow left his church a few years before the new pastor arrived on the scene. He left because of strained relationships with a few other members. So the new pastor went to see the disaffected member and sat before the fireplace with him in total silence.

After what seemed like a very long time, the pastor took the tongs, picked out a bright and burning coal from the fire, and placed it on the hearth. Both watched as the coal grew cold, dimmed, and died.

The pastor turned to the fellow and said, "We miss you at the kirk."

Apart from my understanding of Ephesians 6 which goes a long way in explaining it, some people just seem to have this thanatos libido manifesting itself by distance/divorce from what they need most.

People need family; and the best families have only one head.

Or as one of my two favorite living devotional writers says, "Things change when Jesus enters the picture" (sign up for her e-mailed devotionals via



When people heard about the expansion of our familial wineskin, they urged us to see The Blindside.

We liked seeing what we're experiencing; and we like encouraging people to see it if they don't get what's been such a blessing to our marriage and family.

He gave the vision/mission to us before we saw it; and it was encouraging to know He is expanding others to...

Or maybe it's just the way it's supposed to...


Are Matthew 25 and Acts 2 still in the new all-about-me parodies of Christianity?

Don't get moi wrong.

Just like today's ecclesiastical culture expects clergy to be "errand boys for their wandering desires...[where]...the enemy I see wears a cloak of decency" (Bob Dylan), every day has not been a hot fudge sundae.

$ is tight.

Space is limited.

All kinds of emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical wineskins gotta stretch.

It's like the day that we went to see the movie.

An usher stopped me and wanted to inspect my briefcase.

I asked why the lady in front of me wasn't stopped; considering her purse was over three times the size of my briefcase and bringing up bad memories of airport security seizing my little Swiss Army penknife while letting the spinster with knitting needles slip...

The answer to my question: "We know what she's packing but don't know what you're packing."

Two lessons.

First, people assume lots of things.

Second, you really don't know what people are packing until you look inside.


I think that's what Campolo was trying to tell me.



Blessings and Love!

Monday, December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Except if you want/need it to be so you can feel better about yourself by comparison, I don't think my professional/vocational/recreational life is that much different from yours.

As I close in on six decades of thrills, chills, ups, downs, in-betweens, twists, turns, and trips to the mountaintop punctuated by periods of Pippin-like moments of feeling flushed, rushed, and razzle-dazzled, that reflection in the mirror every morning reminds me that I need Jesus as Savior as much as anybody who's ever lived.

While I haven't had the resources/opportunities of, let's say, Tiger, I know I could/would/but-not-should have been as careless/reckless/promiscuous/narcissistic and darkly downright immoral/sinful as him given similar resources/opportunities.

Unless you're Ray Stevens' "Sister Bertha Better-Than-You," you can relate when you stand before that reflection in...

And even those judgmental Sister Berthas, sooner or later and usually sooner than later or definitely in the end, expose themselves.

Oh, sure, they may be pretty good posers for a decade or so; but everyone betrays the need for Jesus as Savior sooner or later and usually sooner than later or definitely in the end.


I was thinking about that the other day as my professional/vocational/recreational life seemed like a survey of the increasing dysfunctions in our American culture.

Bluntly, people are really ___y these days.

I see it all the time as a pastor, presbyter, professor, police chaplain, president of a junior tackle football league, partner, parent, and even other parts of my life that don't begin with P.

There's a lot of unhappiness in our world today that's being transferred to everyone; and even the church - where folks say they love Jesus which means they should/maybe-not-would-or-could-because-it's-a-choice be making some kinda effort to love like Jesus - isn't immune to all of the, uh, ___iness.

When things don't go exactly like too many folks want 'em to go these days, they just ___ and moan about it.

You know it's true.

And if you don't know that, it's probably because you're one of 'em who's doin' all the ___ing and moaning.



Certainly, there's been lots of dysfunction in our world and even among folks who pretend to be close to God since the garden.

Be that as it always will be until the parousia, I've come across a few columns and a KD reader comment in the last week that have really helped me to understand what's not going on in so much of our world and even church.

From James P. Gannon, former editor of The Des Moines Register, in USA Today on 12/8/09: "There is no normal anymore...There is nothing normal about an economy in which the federal government takes over giant automakers, bails out too-big-to-fail banks, buys up nearly all mortgages...There is no normal in American politics anymore...Both major political parties gravitate toward their extremes...In foreign policy, international terrorism is the new abnormal...It is not normal for our wars to drag on...even in WWII, America's involvement was over in fewer than four years...It is not normal for our soldiers to endure three, four, five deployments...It is not normal for U.S. soldiers to be gunned down by one of their own Army officers on American soil...On top of this, our culture has gone alien. Hollywood churns out a gutter-flow of violence, vampires and video sex...The 2008 presidential election was about "change." The election of 2010 and 2012 could be about getting control of too much change and returning to normal."

From Gwen Shaw, founder and president of End-Time Handmaidens, in The Revival Call (number 70, 11/09): "The world and the people in it are becoming ever more sinful, cruel, demonized, weak, and so cowardly they refuse to take a stand against evil. It is a time of great compromise...People are 'selling their souls' to be 'politically correct' and for their job security. The time has come when you can 'buy a man for a dollar.'"

From a mainliner in Maryland in surprisingly corresponding comments related to the last KD (scroll down): "Ron Paul is looking better and better. Did you see Barbara Boxer equating a woman's right to have an abortion funded by the federal government to a man's right to having his insurance fund Viagra? Let's see. Kill a baby or get an erection. Which is more important? It's people like her who cause folks to look at me as if I had three heads when I refer to myself as a liberal. Grrr! Right on about the Confederate flag! One of our members marched with MLK. And isn't it hilarious when white supremacists tout themselves as the apex of creation when most of them are not very bright? KD touched a few buttons today. And God bless you for it."



I was talking to my new black son about why I feel so compelled to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus despite the Tigerishness in me.

Parenthetically, that's a metaphor for sin to be taken literally in terms of inclination but not volume; though, again, maybe if I had the resources/opportunities...

Sorry, I'm just not posing with Sister Bertha even if that's expected from clergy.

Well, I reminded him of the English guy in Parliament who said something like this: "When good people do nothing, evil prospers."

To satiate the hyper-Calvinists as well as my sense of original sin, I'd put relatively before good in the last quote.

Be that as it is unless you're posing as Sister Bertha, I also quoted one of my heroes who was mentioned by the liberal with evangelical inclinations from Maryland: "We can no longer lend our cooperation to an evil system...He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it...So in order to be true to one's conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system."

"That's why," I told my new black son, "I don't tolerate mean, nasty, bigoted, judgmental, selfish, hurtful, hateful, my-way-or-the-highway people in my life anymore. And I don't care if those kind of people don't like me 'cause I sure as shootin' don't want to be liked by those kinda people. I won't enable them in church or community or national leadership anymore. It's hard enough for me to look in the mirror without being confused for one of 'em."

Getting back to Gwen Shaw, she sees a new movement being, uh, moved/ignited by His fresh wind and fire: "The elect of God are standing up in a time of darkness, and acting with a courage that has not been seen since the founding of this nation by our early fathers. They will begin to live sanctified and holy lives, walk and conduct themselves in purity and righteousness...If you are one who had determined long ago to 'put your head on the block' for Truth, I commend you to God. All the angels of Heaven are watching over you. And I want to encourage you with the words of Jesus, 'Let not your heart be troubled!'"

I know I'm messed up; which is why I don't dress up like Sister Bertha.

I know I need Jesus as my Savior.

I know I'll never be as pure and perfect as I want to be for Him in gratitude for, uh, everything here and hereafter.

But I'm going to try.


I've got more concerns than the reflection in the mirror.


I'll never forget the elder who would always offer to resign when she didn't get her way; and I'd always talk her out of it.

I wasn't being noble or anything remotely like that.

I just didn't want to deal with the folks who would ask why our Sister Bertha resigned; figuring I could endure her navel-gazing a lot more than...

It's a stewardship thing.

There's only so much time, energy, and emotion to go around; and I'd rather spend mine on folks with problems more serious than whether their deodorant is keepin' 'em dry all day.

Well, she would also say so often to make me wonder what she was really saying if you know what I mean, "I could never be a pastor."

Then it happened.

I wasn't spending as much time as I should with the Lord to enable the fruit of patience and she came in with her predictable offer to resign after not getting her way on something and punctuated the conversation as expected: "I could never be a pastor."

I said, "I believe you have meant well during your tenure on the board; but I must say you have always been right about being a pastor. You don't love people enough to be a pastor. I mean you don't love 'em like Jesus loves 'em. You only love 'em as long as they agree with you. Jesus loves everybody equally. He loves everybody unconditionally. And until I see you loving Jesus by loving people like Jesus, you will never be an officer in this church as long as I'm here or alive. In fact, I won't let you near leadership in any way."

That was many years ago.

She ended up on the church board again; and ran away with a successor.

I see connections between her, Sister Bertha, and Tiger.

Yeah, it's in the genes and it goes back to the garden.

It's in my blood too!

That's why all of us need a blood transfusion if you know what I mean.

Dang mirror!



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 10, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I like that song.

The Christophers put it this way: "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

Or as C.S. Lewis often suggested, "It's better to point people to heaven than tell them that they're going to hell."

Be that as it ought to be with folks who have good news, a fruit of the Spirit - evidence of intimacy with God - is joy.

Or as Donald Grey Barnhouse often said, "If you aren't joyful - I mean radiantly, abundantly, joyful - you, obviously, don't have any idea of what God has done for you in Jesus."

You can tell lots about people by what's on their faces.

It often betrays what's in their hearts.


Getting back to the song, it was written by Chris Rice and is part of Miracle on Main Street which is a Christmas pageant that will be presented by the children of our family of faith on 12/13 (go to for details).

For the second time in four years, our children compelled me to be in it.

I play the mayor who is something of a bah humbug until he gets it/Him with the help of children who get it/Him.

It's a wineskin-stretching experience pour moi; 'cause I've never felt called to acting.

When I was in seminary, I always struggled with our speech department because so much of it seemed like posing/pretending; so much so that one of the professors - a woman with the appropriate initials of VD who coached the cast of The Honeymooners - said to me after an audition for something, "Well, you're not a basket case - but close."

When I've taught in seminary, I tell my preaching students that if they don't believe what they're saying, they're acting and won't have the passion to exhort/encourage or whatever else is supposed to happen in the pulpit.

Or as James Brown, not the singer but the founder of the Presbyterian Charismatic Communion, said to me back in 1977 when I couldn't figure out why my church wasn't growing, "Nothing can happen through you that has not first happened to you."

A salty missionary got it/Him: "You can't give away what you ain't got for yourself."

Parenthetically, now you know why some churches grow and others don't.

Be that as it is, I'm having a hard time memorizing my lines because that process is so far out of my box and charismata; but I'm trying really hard because our children's joy for living in/through/for Him is so contagious/compelling.

While I don't enjoy the process of my part in the pageant, I'm feeling so blessed by the children's exuberance/excitement that I'm overcoming those damning bah humbugs who hang around all seasons.


Maybe they'll be infected by the kids.

If it can happen to me...

In other words, if you're one of those KDers who's cranky/contentious for Jesus or have no real interest in Jesus, check your local papers and go to a children's Christmas pageant.

It'll be a lot better than most sermons; 'cause lots of preachers preach/pose/pretend and aren't really that into it/Him anyway.

You can see it on their faces just like, uh, the faces of...

I see lots of mugs that aren't very merry.

Maybe that's why Jesus talked so much about children getting it/Him.

So, again, go to a pageant and see...and...maybe...


In a related story, PBHO's health care bill is moving ahead/behind (depending upon your ideological bent); and it looks like it will include federal funding for abortions.

Dirty Harry (Doesn't he look like a happy camper?), the Wicked Witch of the West (Wild horses dragging me by the tongue on a desert island couldn't persuade me to...), and other barbarians who want to save Polar Bears while enabling infanticide while seeing no intellectual inconsistency not to mention sin in any of their illogic are getting help from mainline denominations (viz., The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church) who have all "chimed" in to insure the death of babies by personal choice/volition/whim/selfishness/whatever-rationalization-works-to-kill-the-kid.

Get this!

Those mainliners - What the hell are they mainlining? - are saying abortion is a "God-given right" that prompts their advocacy of federal funding for, uh, murder, uh, they not I mean, abortion.

Here's part of their press release: "Reforming the health care system in a way that guarantees affordable and accessible [abortion] for all is not simply a good idea - it is necessary for the well-being of all people in our nation...[There is a] and moral obligation to ensure access to abortions at every stage in an individual's life."

As Blutto would say, "Holy ___!"

Picture this scene.

"Hey, Jesus! Abortion is a God-given right!"

That may be as shocking to Him as mainline pewsitters hearing something about Jesus and Biblical faith and morality from their pulpits.

With all apologies to the Christophers and C.S. Lewis, it's that kinda talk that brings up thoughts/realities of hell.

Anyway, all of those independents/non-denominationals/emergings/sideliners better start making plans for expansion again; and who in God's name will want to send $ to enable those kinda guys/gals?

One professor's protest: "Please tell me what gives our denominational leaders the authority to sign letters endorsing political issues like the current amendment concerning US Government funding of abortion?...This is only the latest in denominational endorsements of political issues for which we, the members, were not consulted. What gives them the right? It is not a 'moral' right, because most of the time what they endorse is morally debatable if not outright outrageously immoral."

Talk about a thanatos libido.


I thought Satan was smarter than that.



Getting back to the pageant, Paul Swedlund went home to Jesus in 1994; but before he died, he called mainliners to life with this stirring comment that converted me: "When you look at the children during a children's sermon, you see a difference between them and who's in the womb. God doesn't!"

God forgive me, but people who make abortion the rule rather than exception remind me of Black Sabbath's song about their kind.



Moving to another lighter subject, some Huckaboo fans are ticked 'cause I'm not so mindlessly lining up for his parade like PBHO's sycophants.


I just can't get around the Confederate flag thing (scroll down to the last KD).

It's very personal for me.

I don't like racists because Jesus doesn't.

He loves 'em which makes me love 'em; but He/I don't like 'em.

And ever since He added a black son to our family, I've become especially sensitive to, uh, overt/covert/conscious/conditioned crackers.

I've always been sensitive to the race thing; ever since I got kicked out of the black section of a military base as a child by MPs who said I wasn't supposed to be "in that part" of the base and they never had a reasonable response for my simple question: "Why?"

Here's the deal.

Huckleberry is either a racist or panders to racists for their votes/$.

Every black knows/smells/sees that.

And if you don't, that's because you're not...

The Confederate flag symbolizes racism to black Americans.


When that Foxey celebrity stops saying it's O.K. to fly it, I'll rethink...

On the other hand, now that Sarah has pulled within 1% of...


Blessings and Love!

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I've never been a fan of ex-Arkansas Governor and wannabe President Mike Huckabee.

First, though the incumbent kinda proves I'm wrong, I just couldn't imagine anyone with a name like his being elected President.

Second, and exponentially more serious, anyone who defends the flying of the Confederate flag, as he has done so consistently, betrays an insensitivity to the ugliness that it represents to so many Americans.

It's akin to a few lines from I Just Wanna Ride (FTW) that I pray/hope will be published before the parousia:

My favorite bad biker example is the obnoxiously insulting and hopefully
ignorant use of the Confederate flag and Nazi symbols by a relatively few

When anybody other than a cracker sees a Confederate flag, they're
thinking KKK, Aryan Nation, and hate groups like them.

When Jews see Nazi symbols, they think Hitler and ___ from the
depths of hell who think like him.

Yeah, I know those same bikers with their Confederate and Nazi
___ on their leathers would stomp anybody burning an American flag;
but I learned long ago that two wrongs don't equal righteousness.

It's time for bikers, bike manufacturers, biker magazines, biker books,
and biker catalogue salespeople to cut that ___ out of our culture.

Anyway, in the spirit of what goes around comes around, the Foxey celebrity commuted the sentence of Maurice Clemmons who allegedly gunned down four Seattle cops over Thanksgiving weekend; and that'll help the Dems and other GOP wannabes de-rail Mike's ride to the White House just like the GOP and some Dems took care of another Mike in a previous campaign.



Staying with Presidential predictions, Al Neuharth, the octogenarian founder of USA Today, wrote on 12/4/09, "PBHO is very smart...But he apparently hasn't learned history. President Lyndon Baines Johnson also was very good at many things. But he, too, lacked an understanding of history. LBJ inherited the Vietnam War. He didn't know how to get out. So he just gave generals more troops...Vietnam became his albatross and cost him a second full term. PBHO inherited the Afghanistan war...Now sending more troops...So it's his war. And his albatross."


Neuharth concludes, "If PBHO doesn't get it and get us out of Afghanistan sooner than later, it will cost him a second term a la LBJ. That would be a shame for a President who has so much promise."


Again, here's my inspiration/indigestion.

If PBHO doesn't start connecting the dots of international terrorism to Islam and those 9/11 Muslim devils get off on some kinda technicality now that someone is sucking up to someone in the name of perverse PC in the name of appeasing ragheads while dissing the integrity of war/military trials and/or there's a terrorist act in the big apple during the trial or windy city after the Gitmo transfers, he's gonna make the Gipper's trouncing of JC look like another sequel to Back to the Future.

With Mike de-railed and PBHO out on the limb, I'm thinking one or two women have a real shot at the big prize in three years.


Mail time!

From South Carolina on my farmer/friend (scroll down to the last edition): "I had the good fortune to have a farmer to visit as you do. When a terrible drought ruined most of his soy bean crop, I asked, 'How do you deal with a year like this?' He said, 'Pastor, every year there's a harvest. Some years are more bountiful than others, but every year we bring in what God provides.' Sounds a lot like, 'You go with what you get.'"

From Illinois on parochials playing in public school leagues (scroll down to the last edition): "As a life-long public school coach, one of the worst teams to play was ___. Not only did they recruit, their fans were nasty, vicious, and downright scary at times. One game, at ___, the school administrators took the refs after the game and locked them in a room until the gym was cleared for the safety of the refs...I could never listen to their pastors/priests on Sunday mornings because of the behaviors that they tolerated on Friday nights!"

Uh, you go with what you get.


As I think of what we've learned about Mike and what lies ahead of PBHO and a friend's concern about a 20 year church member who's raisin' everything but heaven in his church, Brother Daniel comes to mind.

He was a Trappist monk at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri.

During a routine dental examination, he fell in love with the woman who was cleaning his teeth.

Sounds kinda gross to me; but I guess it happens.

Well, he left the monastery, got married, and started a family.

When I asked Brother Theodore what he thought about it, he said, "It takes a while before you really know someone. Brother Daniel was only with us for 15 years."

While I've always thought celibacy is a great idea for those who are, uh, gifted for it, Brother Daniel, obviously, didn't have that gift and had to move on.

That's another subject.

Staying with this one for another sentence or two, Brother Daniel proved who we really are emerges when who we really are emerges.

Now back to Mike, PBHO, my friend's 20 year church member, and...



Blessings and Love!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



As I watched two of my older sons play basketball last night, my attention turned to their coach.

He is among the best at getting the most out of his players.

That was especially apparent last night as he coached against one of those private schools in a public school league that recruit so shamelessly and get away with it.

Admittedly, I admire their passionate devotion to academic and athletic excellence.

I just don't think it's right for them to play in a public school league where they don't have to follow the same rules as everybody else.

Of course, being a Yankees fan, it's like throwing stones from a glass house.

We're used to buying the best players from other towns.

Anyway, I was impressed by my sons' coach whose players are slower and smaller than that team with a bench that could start for most teams in the league yet hung with 'em until, well, uh, you know how it goes...

If the parochial coach in a public league wins Coach of the Year for doing what he should do with what he gets...

It's like my Yankees-hating dad always says when I boast about the Yankees: "They should win! They buy all of the best players!"

An authentic Coach of the Year is a coach who does the best with the least when compared to other coaches sporting superior talent and numbers.

The wins/losses don't always compute the character/competence of a coach.

Anybody who really knows anything about sports knows that; and, parenthetically, that's why Girardi wasn't picked as the AL Coach of the Year even after leading the Yankees to another sweeping success in the World Series.

My sons' coach adjusts to the talent and numbers that he gets without bending/twisting/ignoring the rules.

That's why my sons' coach was the real winner last night despite the score.



I have a farmer/friend in a nursing home.

I try to visit him at least once a week; but being the pastor of a high maintenance congregation and called so often to visit folks of other churches in the hospital or provide care for folks with no connection to any church in the region or...

Anyway, I try...

Recently, as harvest moved to tundra in the upper reaches of Illinois, I asked him how he approached a vocation so dependent upon weather patterns that are so unpredictable that folks who are paid big bucks to predict 'em are often...

He said with a smile, "You go with what you get."

My sons' coach understands that.


My forever pastor who went home to Jesus many years ago warned/counseled as I prepared for ordination: "You'll know if you're really called to a church in six months; and then it will take a few years before you know the movers and shakers, pillars, players, pretenders, and all the rest."


It was his way of saying, "You go with what you get."

And if you're called to 'em, you adjust to get His best out of 'em.

That's why in addition to considering a pastoral vocation akin to being a cheerleader or referee, I've also realized it's like being a coach.

Again, you go with what you get.


Two failures of mine come to mind.

First, I announced my determination to take Parkesburg, Pennsylvania's First Presbyterian Church from under 300 to over 3000 not long after being called to it in 3/77.


There were nine strong churches in that town of 2900.

Maybe that's why a seasoned elder said this after I outlined "my" plans for growth at my first ever meeting as moderator/pastor of a church: "If you think we're doing any of that, you're crazy."

Second, after being ordained for over two decades, which means I should have known better, I enabled an elder who had stopped worshiping regularly because he didn't like my predecessor but was put on the search committee that picked me so that he'd become active again (aka in that church as financially viable) return to the session - top church board in a Presbyterian kinda church - because, as I told the nominating committee, he had done such a great job on the search committee.


Well, it wasn't long before he drew comparisons between my predecessor et moi and I discovered anyone who is a malcontent with most other pastors becomes a malcontent with just about any pastor; or as I warn people regardless of their vocation, "If a person is always talking pejoratively about other people when she/he is talking to you, you can bet the farm on her/him talking pejoratively about you when talking to other people."

I was crazy in the first instance; and learned you can't build big churches in small towns that are already satisfied with the ecclesiastical culture.

I was naive in the second instance; and learned people who don't worship regularly for any reason should never be enabled to do anything related to leadership because it's more about them than Him (scroll down to the 10/29/09 edition for who should be nominated for any kind of leadership in the church) and it's gonna cause problems sooner than later.

It's like the pastor who confronted me during one of my regular personal failures: "You're a man of prayer. I'm sure you can work it out with Him."

Frankly, I wasn't a man of prayer when confronted; and, ergo, couldn't work it out with Him.

Knowing "God inhabits the praises of His people," why would any pastor or nominating committee enable "leadership" for someone who ain't worshiping with the family of faith; knowing they may be inhabited by...?

Hearts are aligned with God during worship.

Conversely, hearts are aligned with something/someone else apart from worship.



Or as my farmer/friend says, "You go with what you get."



Getting back to the last section of the last KD on 12/3 (scroll down), I forgot to mention the antecedent to my big decision: "I'm never going to ask anyone else ever again to expand their wineskin to accommodate mine because part of agape is sacrificing my lust for others to accommodate me."

One of my prayer partners was a little miffed about folks not adjusting their calendars to, uh, adjust to new opportunities which resonated with me because I was a little miffed about folks not adjusting their calendars to, uh, adjust to new opportunities.

He said, "I get a little tired of people who expect me to be sensitive to their sensitivities but are never sensitive to my sensitivities."

Parenthetically, it reminded me of the constant insensitivities of the left and right to each other in church/politics (often indistinguishable) as they always banter and moan about each other not being sensitive to their sensitivities; which is true because they aren't sensitive to the sensitivities of each other in a navel-gazing kinda way.

Anyway, just about simultaneously, we had one of those apocalyptic moments when His light shines on the subject; and we realized agape is sensitive to the sensitivities of others but does not expect or need others to be sensitive to their sensitivities.

Mutual sensitivity to sensitivities only occurs when everybody's on the same page of agape.

Or something like that.

So in the meantime, you go with what you get.

My sons' basketball coach understands that.

I'm still trying.


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


It's common for members of a pastor search committee to be among the first to trickle out of church during a pastoral transition as the unrealistic expectations for their choice are not met.

Whether somebody's looking for a best buddy, champion for an agenda, carbon copy or "exact opposite" of a predecessor, paramour, puppet, or something other than an agapeish Christocentric pastor for everybody, it happens; and it's always painful.

Indeed, it's so, uh, common for those who were most unrealistically or fantastically excited at the installation to be among the first in line at the complaint department; usually masking the real issues as suggested in the preceding sentence lest the baser be confused with the noble.

Sometimes it's just not a match made in heaven.

Surely, if it's a true beruf, there will be a trickle in to replace the trickle out for it's just a part of the predestined ecclesiastical circle of life.

I was thinking about that today as the America-hating-far-left wingnuts who had such low hopes for PBHO to destroy our heritage are going apoplectic in discovering he actually cares about national security and people so desperate for an athlete to provide a pure and perfect role model for America's youth have discovered Tiger Woods is just about as human as, uh, you and me and everybody else.

In one of her more lucid moments, Barbara Streisand was right on many years ago in observing, "America builds up its heroes and then tears them down."

The church and world are kissin' cousins when it comes to that.



Victorious Ministry Through Christ, a ministry dedicated to enabling total commitment to Jesus and freedom from dark bondages, taught me to dump my garbage before others dig it up and live happily ever after.

That's my interpretation of VMTC's understanding of John's understanding of God's complete forgiveness (viz., 1 John 1:5-10); or as Bobby Kennedy used to say, "Hang a lantern on your flaws."

John 3:19-21 comes to mind.

Unlike my friends on the right who don't like to see anything happen for the first time, I've always liked PBHO on a personal level; and I'm still harboring hope of an invite to share a Bud Light in the garden and maybe get him to get me on Oprah to plug my new book before she, uh, whatevers. Yeah, I think he's strictly OJT; but I don't think he's part of some deep and dastardly dark conspiracy to turn the country over to that Hugo nutball below the equator. I think he means well; though a thought from my daddy keeps bothering me: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Then there's Tiger.


If I were married to that nanny, I'd think twice before...

If I/you think Sarah is hot...


While I've always felt folks who point out the flaws of others are hiding some juicy immoralities of their own and like to light fires in the backyards of others to make sure nobody sees their homes are burning down, Tiger has fessed up and admitted "transgressions" against his family and, I assume, God.

Yeah, some church ladies and other speck-inspectors want the specifics; but if God has already wiped 'em off the slate, who do they think they are to...?


Several years ago, one of my better friends picked on one of my better friends because he thought he wasn't as theologically tight as he thought he should be.

Liking things a bit looser than tighter if you know what I mean or more gracious than litigious in a Christian kinda way, I tried to intercede by saying, "Geez, guys, you're on the same side. Do you really think your intramural jousting is honoring Jesus?"

Then I told the one who was more theologically tight than the other, "Why don't you pick on someone your own size? Or are you like those terrorists who don't take on the real enemy and slaughter non-combatants and even their own kind to make a point that nobody really...?"

So he turned his attention on me.


I've learned trying to be rational with the irrational is illogical; or as an old elder counseled me so many years ago in counsel that has stuck, "Don't get into tinkling contests with skunks."


Churches as well as the world are increasingly cannibalistic.

Bantering and moaning, biting, bruising, and butchering seem to be the SOP in cultures so much more about eros than agape.

Be that as it is, it should not be; especially among folks who say they love Jesus.

I think of the idiot who actually made an appointment to see me about 25 years ago to say, "I'm leaving the church because you talk too much about love."

Help me, Jesus!

I keep running into that guy's relatives.


Our family of faith at First in Belvidere hosted a welcoming service for a new, uh, church in town on 12/2.

Our mayor, a few pastors, and a sprinkling of members from different churches showed up.

I thought it was a good idea as in, you know, one Lord, one faith, one baptism...

There's enough division in the world; and I thought, as Mark Twain noted, that maybe the church can set a better example of bringing people together instead of pressing, pushing, and pulling 'em apart: "The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little by way of example."

Simply, it would be nice if more folks who say they love Jesus would love like Jesus.

Anyway, the "Lead Pastor" of the new church in town made some startling comments as far as the attending traditionalists/mainliners were concerned: "We only ask one question when we worship and minister. Are we pleasing God?...I'm sick to death of all the divisions among God's people over stupid stuff. Too many churches make it too complicated. It's pretty simple. Churches are supposed to fit into His Kingdom and stop trying to get His Kingdom to fit into their churches...I think God is so sad: 'Will they ever just get along?'...We're supposed to be agents of His healing not wounding..."


It sounds so, uh, authentic.

It brings to mind a column that you may want to read sometime that reminded me a lot of what I witnessed last night: Click Here


I made a decision today.

Big one.

I was helped by some prayer partners between 6:30 - 7:50 a.m.

I'm never going to ask anyone else ever again to expand their wineskin to accommodate mine because part of agape is sacrificing my lust for others to accommodate me.

It may be His way of calling me to approach the cross.

Jesus went to the cross alone.

He provided the paradigm.

While I don't see a big parade following Him to that kind of authentic discipleship, that is His call for anyone who really, really, really wants to enter into intimacy with Him.

I know I'll never measure up.

I'll fail.

I'll fall.

And whenever I come up short, I'll remember that's why He came in Him as Savior.

That's why I've gotta try.

Let me put it another way - something that the pastor of the new church in town gets and I'd forgotten.

You can't always kiss Jesus and the church/world (sometimes indistinguishable) at the same time.



Blessings and Love!

Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Albert Einstein was a familiar face at Princeton; and while teaching at the university, he was a frequent guest lecturer at the seminary.

Renowned as the most brilliant mind of the 20th century, he was very forgetful; and it wasn't unusual to spot him strolling across the seminary campus without one of his socks or both of his shoes!

There's one story of the university switchboard receiving a call and asking for Dr. Einstein's address.

The operator said, "I'm sorry. Dr. Einstein has made it clear that we are not to give out his address to anyone."

"But," the voice on the other end said after a short pause, "this is Dr. Einstein."


It's important to know who you are; and around this time of the year, it's important to know why we observe/celebrate Christmas.

While it may sound simply syrupy, you can't take Christ out of Christmas without replacing its/His holiness with holly hollowness.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Christmas is all about Jesus.



A letter to parents about it comes to mind:

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner.
Tree lots are springing up all over the place and merchants
are spicing up the season with really seductive deals; though
I'm not sure if they know what it's all about. But in some
strange way, all of it gets me pretty excited.

I know you're wondering what to give the kids this year.
It seems nobody remembers what they got last year. There
aren't many things that don't wear out, get thrown out, or
become played out. That's why I'm writing. I've got an
idea that can change all of that.

Do you remember when your babies were born? Do you
remember how you were lost in wonder, love, and praise?
And do you remember when they were baptized? You
promised to tell them about Jesus and get them involved
with their whole family of faith in the church. And do
you remember those first Christmas Eve services when
their faces seemed more sparklingly brilliant than the
light from the candles in their little hands? And do you
remember the tears welling in your eyes when you heard
them sing about that "Silent Night" for the first time? I
know you remember when they saw a manger scene and
yelled out with such innocent joy, "There's baby Jesus!"

I think you know what to give them for Christmas.

I'm not one of those Scrooge-like "Christians" who make
holidays look like a bad case of hemorrhoids. I like popcorn
balls, candy canes, cookies with red and green sprinkles,
spiked eggnog, mistletoe, and even the funny fat man in
the red suit. They help to make the season bright.

I just want you to remember why we're so excited
every year around this time.

It all about a baby.



Why not give Jesus to the kids? There is something so
eternal about Him. And I know you want to give a gift to
them that lasts forever.

I know you want them to have more to show for Christmas
than unwrapped presents, tired feet, and regrets for cards
not sent and gifts not purchased.

Maybe that's why they named the holiday after Him. Only
someone really, really, really important could keep us
celebrating for over two thousand years.

Now I'm really excited.

Blessings and Love,
(a close relative)



I was thinking about all of that because one of my better friends was a little ticked at me for dissing Pittsburgh's Sparkle Season (scroll down to KD's 11/18/09 edition).

I confess I did.

Pittsburgh's Sparkle Season, with its increasing incarnations nationwide, is an attempt by secularists/anti-Christs to take Jesus out of the holiday for, uh, anti-Christ reasons.

It's intellectually dishonest.

Christmas is about Jesus.

But if mainline clergy can't even talk about Him by name anymore...

Anyway, my better friend reminded me about the genesis of Pittsburgh's Sparkle Season.

Sophie Masloff, Pittsburgh's first and still only female mayor (1988-1994) who was born to Romanian Jewish parents in Pittsburgh (1917) and spoke only Yiddish until she began attending school in Pittsburgh's Hill District, was pressured by the Jewish community and ACLU to expand the inclusiveness of the, uh, holiday, uh, called Christmas to, uh, include people/religions/others who weren't, uh, into, uh, Jesus.

My better friend: "So the idea behind Sparkle Season was not to secularize Christmas but rather to acknowledge other holidays important to other people like Chanukah."


That makes sense; and knowing Pittsburgh's 55th mayor was especially ethical and agapeish, I do not doubt her noble intentions.

But, uh, Christmas is still primarily/solely/historically/traditionally/actually about Jesus.



Now that we've got the first truly secular President in America, I expect the anti-Christs to really go for, uh, whatever it is that they're really after.

God knows I know you know they want Jesus out of mind/sight/culture.

Anyone who doubts that still thinks the founder and true believers of Islam are irenic versions of Tiny Tim.

God knows I know you know this, uh, holiday has become some kinda anti-tribute to someone somewhere about something that we've somehow shelved as seduced by cultural secularism.

Or something like that.


A friend in Florida who happens to be a mainline clergyman but still gets it/Him has started a campaign to return Jesus to Christmas in America; or, at least, to vent about the anti-Christs who are trying so hard to ruin the holiday for people who still get it/Him.

He's targeted the ACLU as the most notoriously dark conspirators to get rid of Jesus during this season.

Here's his idea.

He wants people who still like Jesus to send "Merry Christmas" cards "to brighten up their dark, sad, little world."

He's even provided the address:

125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
NY, NY 10004

He writes, "A side benefit is that tons of Christmas cards would impact their operations because they wouldn't know if any were regular mail or perhaps were containing contributions...So spend 44 cents and tell the ACLU, 'Merry Christmas!'"




It's important to know who you are; especially as more and more folks try to steal your identity.

It's important to be intellectually honest about things.

Christmas is all about Jesus.


Christmas is all about God coming in Jesus as the Babe of Bethlehem.

I'm hoping/praying your Christmas and all years are filled with the love and joy of Jesus in all things at all times in all places with all people.

As far as I'm concerned, the secularists/anti-Christs can go to...

Hey! Hey! Hey!

It's their choice.

I just don't want them to think they can choose for me or pretend what is isn't.

You pretending Christmas isn't about Jesus.


Blessings and Love!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


You may have heard of the old hillbilly preacher who concluded, "Revival sometimes don't mean bringin' people in; but gettin' the people out who don't love Jesus and all His children!"

I thought about that early yesterday morning as His fresh wind and fire keep fanning the flames of revival in our family of faith since...

I thought about that late last night as I listened to a pastor in New Jersey lament, "The fundies in our church are killing us. They're so right about everything and everybody else is so wrong. They're so mean for Jesus."

Well, on the eve of Thanksgiving with Sparkle Season about to press the pedal to the metal with a holly spirit not too sure what it's really all about anymore, I'm wondering why some people who hang around churches don't get it/Him.


You know they-sometimes-us don't get it when they're/we're so right while being so loveless.

1 Corinthians 13:11-13



Parenthetically, my-way-or-the-highway types come in all, uh, ideological extremes.

I say ideological because extremes can't be theological because theological is Godly as patterned by Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture while ideological comes from navel-gazing.

And that, KDers, goes a long way in explaining what's wrong in so many churches.

They can't distinguish ideology from theology - navel-gazing from Biblical Christianity as enfleshed in Jesus.

Getting back to the apostle, and I don't think I'm wrong on this while admitting I may be, I've come to understand the connection between belief and behavior as loving Jesus by loving like Jesus.


Let me put it another way that will surely cause apoplexy among anal extremists on the left and right.

You can be right about everything but wrong about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus and that'll prove you have no clue about what it means to be His.

You can be wrong about everything but right about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus and that'll prove you're headed in the right/His direction.

If you don't understand that, it means you need to go back to Sunday School.


Getting back to the hillbilly preacher, you've probably heard the story in its many translations/transmissions.

Essentially, it goes like this.

A visitor to the preacher's church is overwhelmed by its socioeconomic diversity and asks, "How did you get the church this way?"

The preacher says, "Our old preacher left our small church and I told the deacons, 'I'll be the preacher!' And on that first Sunday as the preacher, I came on these words: 'As many of you been baptized in Jesus has put on Jesus and ain't no difference who you is as long as you is His which makes you one with all of His. If you is, you is. If you ain't, you ain't.'"

The visitor asked, "What happened after that sermon?"

"Well," the preacher said, "the deacons took me into the back room and told me that they didn't wanna hear that kinda preachin' no more."

The visitor asked, "So what did you do?"

"I fired them deacons," the preacher said, "and I preached that church down to four before it could grow again. I found out that revival sometimes don't mean bringin' people in; but gettin' the people out who don't love Jesus and all His children!"

After that pastoral/prophetic pruning, that hillbilly preacher's church grew and grew and grew...



Getting back to Thanksgiving, Sparkle Season, and my peer in New Jersey, confession, countenance, and conduct seem to be inextricably woven into the fabric of an authentic Christian's discipleship.

Simply, a churchgoer's Christianity is confirmed/contradicted by confession (words), countenance (appearance), and conduct (actions).

If you've got too many posers rather than practitioners of authentic Christianity hanging around - again, authentics love Jesus by loving like Jesus - your church is as far away from Him as those Muslim devils who pollute the globe by acting like their reimagined reality of true deity is into killing people who can't be converted.

Uh, ain't that how those extremists from the left and right in too many churches really posture their bastardized form of Christianity?

It's so tragically true.

"If we can't convert 'em, we'll kill 'em," they say by their confession, countenance, and conduct.

That's why churches who really want to be His have got to listen to that hillbilly preacher.

As long as churches enable people who pretend to love Jesus by hating people in a Christian kinda way which always happens when those ideologues not Christians are not identified and isolated from leadership in local churches (see Romans 16:17ff.), churches will not be the safe haven intended by Jesus for people of all colors, classes, and cultures; remaining bastions of bigotry for people who cannot distinguish ideology from theology.

Or something like that.


For example, when I arrived at my last institutional call about four years ago, I inherited a superb staff that had been bruised/bloodied by such ideological wars, an overwhelmingly faithful membership that was so often so caught up in the middle of such ideological wars that it was bruised/bloodied, and some wolves in sheep's clothing - again, identified by their my-way-or-the-highway ideology masquerading as theology from left and right - who had to be isolated if the saints were ever going to be freed from those chains to experience/express their authentic Christianity.

Or something like that.

As we cross over into our fifth year of life and ministry together, the hillbilly preacher's strategy for Biblical church growth has begun to blossom.

While we're as economically depressed as most churches in our neighborhood and nation - we've got a local unemployment rate approaching 20% - folks are more excited than ever before to be His for His and members/visitors are saying how they're no longer afraid of being judged and new faces are showing up all the time and real reconciliation is occurring for folks who really get it/Him and...

Sometimes some undershepherds (pastors, elders, deacons, and the like) need to remember their fencing responsibilities to protect people who need the Jesus who frees people to be His best for them from those who just want to control 'em and promote the only truth that counts in the end that loving like Jesus is loving Jesus.



Let me put it another way.

Whenever I counsel parents who want their babies "done" in baptism - I'm often tempted to ask, "Do you want 'em rare, medium, or well done?" - and I know they know He knows they worship about as irregularly as 70% of the people on the membership rolls of mainline denominations, I say, "I'm glad you understand the privilege that you have to point your child to Jesus who will always love her/him in time and forever; and I'm so thankful that you're so responsible about promising not to cheat her/him of the faithful fun of regular worship, Sunday School, Christmas, Easter, and all of the other exciting seasons of the church."

That's why we've got to take that hillbilly preacher's advice.

We must not cheat the faithful and inquiring of the love expressed/experienced in an authentic family of faith.

That's when we cooperate with the Holy Spirit's overwhelming the holly one in true Thanksgiving and a Sparkle Season worth celebrating.


Blessings and Love!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 21, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Harold often said, "The most dangerous people have no shame."

While I thought he was talking about Democrats, Republicans, and clergy in mainline denominations, he was referring to anyone who is either ignorant about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus (agape) or knows loving Jesus is loving like Jesus (agape) and is just too selfish to do it for God's sake.

Ignorance and selfishness.

I may be wrong, but I think that's a concise etiology for what's ailin' our world/church.


I was with some folks who worship PBHO - lots of 'em around these days - and they were offended by my suggestion that's he's a socialist in Brooks Brothers clothing; so I surmised, "You're just ignorant."

Parenthetically, if he is a socialist deep down inside where Rachel/Chris/Keith won't go, I think he's a socialist because he thinks that's what's best for people. Unlike some of my sick Republican friends who are always looking for the Antichrist's prophet and want us to believe it's him, I think PBHO really wants what's best for people even if I think he's like those philosophy professors who have lived such sheltered/insulated/living-in-the-ozone-layer-of-reality lives and have no clue. I like those professors. I just don't want any of 'em to be President.

I was with some folks who hate PBHO in a Christian kinda way - lots of 'em around these days - and they were offended by my statement that they need to take a long look in the mirror to see if their hatred for him is because they think he's the Antichrist's prophet or they just don't care about everybody's, uh, welfare: "You're just selfish."

Parenthetically, while I have some serious reservations, for example, about those health care reforms being rammed into our wallets by PBHO who's acting like his manhood depends upon it, I think, and I may be wrong, some people just don't want everybody to have equal access/opportunities to health care. Some people just want, uh, more than others; which is to say, "Hell with 'em as long as I'm gettin' mine." And to bring Christianity into it for a second, whatever happened to that Acts 2 initiative of taking care of everybody regardless of who, where, what, or when with no regard to class, culture, or color?

Ignorance and selfishness.

Yeah, that's what's ailin' our world/church.



When God decided to add a member to our family ready or not, we were faced with some serious questions about the integrity of our Christianity.

We had and the child had not.

Yeah, I'm still struggling with the sins of past plastic and frozen wages and coveting that Road King...

But we're gettin' by a lot better than, well, uh, geez, sigh, a lotta folks; and when/where in God's Name did I ever come up with the idea that I deserve a bigger piece of the pie than...?

What am I gonna say to Jesus about that in the end?

I did not want to do it.


I said it.

Unfortunately for folks who are ignorant/selfish enough to think they deserve more than everybody else and fortunately for our new child who God loves no more nor no less than you/me/anybody, my 11th grader and 6th grader got/said it/Him right: "You are always saying not to wait for somebody else to do what's right...There's always room for what's right."

It was a 3 John 4 moment.

We need more of 'em.

Anything less is just ignorant/selfish.


Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November 18, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Yesterday felt like Sparkle Season in Greater Rockford, Illinois.

That's Pittsburghese for December holidays that forget the reason for the season in a secular kinda way.

This would be a good time to scroll down to Kathie's clip about keeping you know Who in you know what.



Guided by some spirit between pastoral calls to Barnes & Noble, I found it: Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.

Because I haven't overcome the consequences of residual plastic sin (aka no new van for wifey, no Hawaii trip for Kathie/hubby, no really big donation to our church's expansion, no new golf clubs for over a year, no on sale football/mule-mounting-when-it's-freezing pants at McSports, no golf memberships for 2010, and, crapola (Italian synonym), no Road King remotely near the horizon...), I picked up a copy from the cheesy display, went to the coffee bar and asked for a cup of water, sat down between a young tart who kept interrupting me with the toxic smell of her perfume that would knock over a bull at fifty paces every time she moved and an older guy and younger woman who had clearly connected through one of those online dating services because they were laughing at everything the other said so nauseatingly, and read it.

Don't be impressed.

It's 413 pages of really, really, really easy reading.

Of course, I went right to the pictures before plunging into the narrative; and except for a soft picture of Sarah with her son Trig that I'll get to later, I was, uh, well, geez, surprised/disappointed because there were no pictures of plunging, uh, anything.

Kinda like the book.

While Sarah is really hot in so many ways, I was thinking vivacious/vixen while reading while surfing reviews late last night kept saying vindictive/vacuous.



Parenthetically, in a real stretch to relate Sarah's possibilities apart from pictures to the current political scene which may be why the partisan elephants and jackasses are spending so much time trying to destroy someone who they pretend is no threat to their continuing power/control, I've got to update the pseudo-prophetic prognostication of 11/14 (scroll down).

If PBHO doesn't start connecting the dots of Fort Hood's bad religion and/or any of those 9/11 Muslim devils get off on some kinda technicality now that someone is sucking up to someone in the name of perverse PC in the name of appeasing authentic Islam while dissing the integrity of war/military trials and/or there's a terrorist act in the big apple (trial) or windy city (Gitmo transfers), he's gonna make the Gipper's trouncing of the peanut farmer way back then look like another sequel to Back to the Future.

Americans care more about the national economy than national security until they care more about the national security than national economy.

That may be why those entrenched elephants and jackasses in D.C. are so nervous about Sarah's, uh, appeal.



Unlike the current resident on Pennsylvania Avenue who takes every opportunity on foreign soil to apologize for America's whatever, Sarah is a syrupy sounding patriot.

She's God and America through and through; and, sorry but you know it's true, unlike the incumbent, you don't have to guess how she really feels about God or America.

While her book is merely a memoir of growing up up there, finding her true love (Todd), rapid rise in politics, walking the talk of her faith (Trig), and the ups/downs of being a mother and professional woman rather than some kinda treatise/manifesto/dissertation, she does take some well-deserved jabs at McCain's staffers who stifled her during their defeated campaign against PBHO and, on occasion, uh, throw a right cross like the one directed at Mrs. Heinz (aka John Kerry): "an elitist loon."

Her first chapter opens with a Lou Holtz quote: "I don't believe that God put us on earth to be ordinary."

Deeper in the book, she digs up another gem from the last great coach of Notre Dame (scroll down to the 11/16 edition for more on that): "Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated."

I heard it this way on ESPN when Holtz was asked how he motivates players: "I recruit motivated players."

I keep telling colleagues, church officers, and others the same thing: "You can't renew people who haven't been newed."

Anyway, she also takes some well-deserved swipes at "badgering" Presbyterian-church-attending-lowest-rated-news-anchor-today Katie Couric and CBS for "selective editing" of her now infamous interview that prompted those McCain staffers to lock her in an igloo after September 2008.



Truth is people are rushing to look at the pictures - I mean read the book - for clues to Sarah's next move.

Will she or won't she you know what?

She includes a quote from Chuck Heath, Sr. at the end: "Sarah's not retreating; she's reloading."

She quotes a quote often repeated for her children: "God doesn't drive parked cars."

Sounds to me like...

Really, do you know any politician who has run for any high office who doesn't really want the highest office of all?


Calling herself a "Commonsense Conservative" with traditional moral principles with a "fundamental faith in the American entrepreneurial spirit," she is a Reaganite who blasts, "The enlightened elites want to tell you to sit down and shut up. But the way forward is to stand and fight."

That sounds strikingly similar to the marginalized evangelicals of mainline denominations with their battle cry: "Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!"

But the greatest peek into her character/heart that is far more important than peeking at anything else in the end is her reimagined letter from God to her Down Syndrome boy Trig.

It will melt your heart; and then you'll know why those career elephants and jackasses are wetting themselves over her possibilities.


Blessings and Love!