Lillian Sawyer went home to Jesus on 3/8/09; and I presided at her memorial service on 3/14/09.
She smiled a lot.
What's deep in the well comes up in the bucket (cf. Proverbs 15:13).
While I will miss her in time, her smile will stay with me until we meet again.
She reminded me of how Mother Teresa often said, "Let us always meet each other with a smile; for a smile is the beginning of love...Where Jesus is, there is joy, peace, and love...Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile."
Lillian got it/Him.
Too many don't.
Somewhere over the rainbow...
Chronic crankiness more than smiles punctuates our culture.
A friend wrote yesterday, "I need a lunch!...I spent an hour being reamed out by a parishioner who is pissed about several things. None of it is about me; but when you are the manager...So I mentioned to my wife, 'It is hard to imagine I could ever be constipated given the number of anuses I have now.'"
He reminded me of the shrink who said to one of my doctoral classes, "Problem people are usually constipated. That's why they dump on you."
Do you remember Marathon Man?
It was a movie in 1976 about Babe Levy, a Columbia University graduate student and avid runner played by Dustin Hoffman, who encounters Nazi war criminal Szell played by Laurence Olivier who has watched over a fortune of diamonds that were taken from Jewish concentration camp victims and has come to New York to collect.
While you've got to watch the movie for the maze of details, Szell uses the tools of his dentist's trade to torture Levy for information about the whereabouts of the diamonds that the student doesn't possess; repeating constantly, "Is it safe?"
Anyway, since seeing that movie so long ago, I've often asked when entering a room with long faces and cranky countenances, "Is it safe?"
Usually, nobody gets it; but it makes me smile nonetheless.
Speaking of cranky people, the Muslims are at it again.
Three of 'em just beat up Pakistan-born Christian pastor Noble Samuel in London because they don't like his, uh, witness: "They were very aggressive in saying they did not agree with me. I said those are your views and these are my views...They said, 'If you don't shut up, we'll break your legs.'"
Of course, Christians can be pretty cranky too.
There's a difference.
Christians don't get crankiness from their Founder.
An elder came in to see me about eight years ago before a session meeting.
A session meeting, for the unchurched or friends in other franchises, is a group of elders or, uh, church leaders who get together a lot more than they need to get together to talk about things that rarely get done in an effort to honor the, uh, Founder (theoretically).
Anyway, she asked, "What's on the agenda for tonight?"
I said, "Well, ___ and ___ are still going at it about our music director and I just can't seem to get them to stop."
She said, "Oh, good! I just love a good fight!"
I asked, "Where did you get that from what Jesus said?"
She, uh, smiled.
It wasn't like Lillian's smile.
I guess smiles can be generated by different sources.
Getting back to Mother Teresa, her theology wasn't as tight as some prefer.
While I know this will get me into trouble with folks who like to fight over the number of angels on a pinhead, I feel more, uh, safe with people like Mother Teresa and Lillian who don't talk too much theology but love a lot like Jesus.
My ministry's goal is so simplistic these days.
I'm just trying to encourage people to love Jesus by loving like Jesus.
I'm leaving the other, uh, stuff (synonym) to folks who have time/energy/emotion for that kinda, uh, stuff.
I figure people who love Jesus and try to love like Jesus make this world and His Church a lot better than folks who keep arguing about, uh, the kind of, uh, stuff noted in the second sentence's metaphor of this section.
Let me put it another way.
You can be right about everything but wrong about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus and you're, uh, smiling for all of the wrong reasons.
You can be wrong about everything but right about loving Jesus by loving like Jesus and you're, uh, smiling for a lot of the right reasons.
Or something like that.
My favorite newswoman in the South on Oxford Professor Gardner (scroll down to 3/13/09's KD): "Someone should tell Sir Richard that the Nazis made lampshades out of human skin."
Friend, I've learned trying to be rational with the irrational is illogical. How can you talk about the sanctity of all human life with folks who are more concerned with saving whales than unborn babies? By the way, if you'd like some simple faith on the subject, google Mother Teresa's views on abortion. I'll never forget an egghead class in college. A spaghetti-headed liberal with two feet planted firmly in the air whose facial expressions often made me wonder if she were having a vision of God or wet herself - Is there another kind? - said, "It's so much more humane to abort babies if they would be subject to abuse or improper care or parents who will not assume responsibility for them or..." A guy interrupted, "Excuse me, please. I have lived in foster homes all of my life. I don't know who my parents are. I've been molested and abused and so much more. But this is the first time that I've heard anyone suggest it would have been better if I'd never been born. Excuse me, please; but I think you're full of ___!" He used a synonym for stuff. I know some folks don't like that kinda language; but some people are really full of ___. Yeah, I'm trying to get rid of all of the unwholesome talk; and, pardon the interruption of judgmentalism, I'm getting better. Now I just, uh, usually think it. I've learned to take the advice of an older elder: "Don't get into tinkling contests with skunks!" In other words, Sir Richard ain't listening.
Aurora, Illinois: "The uncommitted are oblivious to the obvious. This is Kingdom talk; and those who don't get that are genuinely uncommitted to the greater good of the King and His Kingdom. Some people are so committed to their own sense of religious comfort: 'As long as I feel good about it, it must be God's will. If I don't feel good about it, it must not be God's will.' Imagine if marriages, corporate contracts, citizenships, and friendships followed the 'feel good' rule. Oops. They do. And look at the state of affairs in our church and world because of it! Kingdom living by Kingdom values is not easy; but Jesus did tell us about briars growing along with the grain. The last time I checked, it was up to the Harvester to do the separation. Not the wheat!"
A volunteer for Jesus in Tennessee: "I can't say enough about having an opportunity to regularly hear someone speak to the lack of Jesus in the PCUSA and staying. I have met quite a few people who have been silenced but still cling to Him and the PCUSA. While we are still stinging from being blacklisted, we have stayed and believe God is still in charge...It pains me deeply that money drives the leadership of the church into thinking they are in charge...Those who could have helped keep running away...I am encouraged daily by your words."
I pray every day to bring His comfort to the afflicted and affliction to the comfortable. Your note encourages me to keep keepin' on; and I pray every day for His best for you and your husband. Unfortunately, the PCUSA - like all mainline denominations and increasing numbers of sideliners - is driven by $. Make no mistake about it! If it weren't for the $ - properties and assets - the franchise would have folded long ago. God knows it ain't Christology and Biblical Theology keepin' the PCUSA together! I think some of our friends who keep running away threw away their copies of Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship. But, then again, monasticism does have its appeals!
A lawyer in Kansas City: "It's easy to understand why PBHO is picking a fight with RL. He needs a good distraction!"
Fights are excellent distractions! That way you don't have to deal with important things like, uh, the truth. It's like my favorite street preacher in Rockford, Illinois likes to say, "You can't fix what you won't face!"
I don't like to fight.
I'd rather worship, golf, or ride...
But every now and then...
When I was famous, an elder said after a session meeting, "It's really important for you not to speak to an issue before everybody else has had a chance to state their opinions because you try to be so Biblically logical that there's no room to debate after you speak."
Not too long ago, I was challenged for being "relentless" once I engage in a debate.
Maybe I haven't changed that much over the years.
If you don't want to know what I think, don't ask; and if you're looking for a fight, I'd prefer you look elsewhere because...
Truth is I'm with Luther: "Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen."
I've messed up.
I'm messing up.
I will mess up.
What a shock.
That's why we call Jesus our Savior and Lord.
I'm fortunate enough to have a mom, wife, sister, children, some elders, members, and friends who sometimes seem to live to remind me of my failures and fallibilities.
I'm really thankful to have Jesus who loves me moretheless.
Oh, how He loves you and me...
As the preceding tune suggests, Kathie and Chuck haven't convinced me that they're right about NY.
Uh, I haven't convinced them that they're wrong.
But we're not gonna fight about it.
We're leaving that to folks who live to make others miserable.
We're just gonna try to love the hell out of people.
Blessings and Love!
Kathie has added some neat stuff to www.koppdisclosure.com Click it or miss it!
We don't call our Savior and Lord Jesus. If you will look in the index to the Book of Confessions, we call Him Christ.
Geez. Give it up! Or get your own website, man! You're sounding a little OC, dude! I love Jesus! You can call the Son whatever you want to call Him, friend, as long as it's consistent with the Bible. Besides, you need to read C67 again. Hint! Regardless, love you for trying to change my etymological idiosyncrasies!
Blessings and Love!
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