Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Monsignor (1982), a movie about a corrupt priest played by Christopher Reeve, didn't win any major cinematic awards; but it caught/catches my attention.

Essentially, Father Flaherty (Reeve) compromises his discipleship for ecclesiastical advancement; finally confessing, "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I have killed for my country, I have stolen for my church, I have loved a woman, and I am a priest."

But here's the line from Father Flaherty's confessor that continues to sober me: "God gives us our choices; but we, ourselves, must choose."

Tony Campolo put it this way for me years ago: "You know you're growing up when you stop blaming your bad behavior on poor potty training."



While I try to blame others for my mistakes or try to convince others to share culpability for 'em, the mirror doesn't lie.

I can write and preach so well on sin because I am so familiar with the subject.

I can counsel others in sin because, well, I've been there and...

No one forced me to commit adultery; and I was not freed from its chains until I assumed full responsibility for it.

No one forced me to leave a church or two prematurely for professional/personal gain; and I was not freed from those chains until I assumed full responsibility for it.

No one forced me to misuse plastic and live with that humiliation; and while still, uh, paying the consequences of that sin, I was not freed from those chains until I assumed full responsibility for it.

No one forced me to act like a self-righteous-self-centered-egomaniac-jackass so often in my life and ministry; and I was not freed from those chains until I assumed full responsibility for it.

No one will be responsible for my head splitting open if a cager pulls out in front of me and hurls me to the pavement; for I bear full responsibility for my rationale for not wearing a helmet when riding my mule.

And because so many people in my life and ministry refuse to take responsibility for their sins against Him and each other, I have learned, after a very hard look at the cross, that following Him to that cross requires bearing it for those who...

The apostle was right about the freedom that comes through confession.

Jesus requires us to bear the sins of others who cannot bear to bear their own; which is why I often say in many contexts, "I will assume the blame for you so we can move on."

That's the kinda grace that He's given to us to move on.

That's the kinda grace that He requires from us to help others move on.

Or something like that.


I often refer to some salt from Mark Twain that must be sprinkled on the church too regularly: "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."

I think of that whenever I pick up the broken pieces from churchfolks who have been especially nasty to each other.

It's a recurring theme of ministry.

How can churchfolks expect people in the world to get along when they don't/can't/won't?

When people look at church spats and the like, they aren't persuaded to join the church.

They don't want what we've got.

If the church isn't a safe haven of unconditional love and just more of the same being offered in the world...

And, confessionally, it's hard to prove you love Jesus when you're treating His children like...

That came to mind during last night's apocalyptic moment.

I always like to interrupt choir practice because, well, uh, geez, I love 'em and like to talk with 'em and then pray with 'em.

Anyway, I was asked why we only have one worship service when we have a guest preacher.

While you'll have to decide if it was an inspiration or indigestion, I felt a rush of His Spirit moving through mine and the words gushed, "It's rather abusive to make a guest preach three times for three different services - two are less than half-filled and the other one only looks filled because it's in the chapel...Besides, Jesus loves all music. Jesus loves all liturgies. Jesus loves the organ. Jesus loves guitars and drums. And when we grow up, all of us will be able to worship together and rejoice in all of those gifts."

Here's the neat part.

As I spoke, I felt so close to Jesus and I saw the glowing faces of our chancel choir and organist and choir director.

We had tasted His glory while bathing in His truth.

Of course, now we'll see if...



I got a note from a subscriber about the last edition of KD that included a few sentences on the mutual affection/affirmation in our family of faith: "Hey! Your ministry through KD extends far beyond your family of faith in Belvidere! Your passionate commitment to preach, teach, and pastor at...[some nice things were written about this witness that lack juxtaposition to this edition's confessional bent and, ergo, are omitted]...I pray that First's Family of Faith appreciates your ministry and service and that they also understand the sacrifice that your wife and children make by allowing you to be available to your immediate and now much extended congregation."

Most do.

Some don't.



I am still struggling to overcome the consequences of my last big sin (plastic).

I am old enough to know there will be more in the future.

Except for those who blaspheme against the Spirit, we never outgrow our need for Jesus.



Blessings and Love!

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