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!

Monday, November 16, 2009

November 16, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Elmer was chairman of the search committee that called me to the church so long ago.

We were theologically compatible and practical/personality polar opposites; and as often happens when members of search committees are, uh, searching for personal buddies/advocates rather than pastors/prophets for the whole congregation, it didn't take too long before I distanced myself from him because a real pastor/prophet can't devote that much time to meet/fuel the needs of someone who wasn't looking for a pastor/prophet for all of the people but rather a personal buddy/advocate.

Or something like that.

Besides, I didn't have much in common with him anyway and didn't really like hanging out with him; so he distanced himself from me and everybody else who were kinda happy that I was inclusive rather than exclusive/selective in who got major chunks of my time which, loosely translated, means I move from crisis to crisis and rarely have time to hang out with anybody in, uh, a social kinda way unless, of course, they golf or ride a mule.

Before he left officially, he resigned from the church board, only worshipped when I wasn't presiding, said bad things about me to his sons so that they wouldn't/couldn't look me in the eyes when I greeted them with my usual enthusiasm, and scheduled his increasingly infrequent visits to the church so that he could slip in and slither out without making eye contact avec moi.

Because I was warned about him before I arrived by a few predecessors and presbyters, I wasn't surprised; though, being as cryptically sensitive as I am, it hurt.

Then he did something that really provoked me to an anger that took years to overcome.

He used $ as a weapon.

Previously, I'd say, conservatively, he supported about 25% of our budget; which, I guess, is why he got to be chairman of the search committee for his next personal buddy/advocate.

Proving his pejorative pathology, he transferred his anger toward me for not meeting his, uh, personal needs by hurting the church's staff, mission, and so on. Though we recovered in about a year and rehired staff and expanded mission, it was a really big hit for such a small church. He turned out to be not as popular as he fantasized - people came to me and confessed they were glad to see him go - and, in two years, the church began to grow and grow and grow...

That's a hint about folks who...

The story didn't end until a few years ago; because, well, uh, geez, sigh, I was really, really, really mad at him for being such a...

I sent letters to encourage him; and always kept my door open to him though, again, he wasn't my type.

I always greeted him cordially.

I never returned his disdain/disfavor/poisoning by speaking ill of him.

I tried Matthew 18:15ff.


My anger grew as he paraded around town so self-righteously and continued his bad reporting about me and, over time, the church; and I couldn't get over how he used $ to hurt us.

Then I heard this: "If you don't get rid of your anger, you will start plotting evil."

I read James 3:16; 4:1-3.

I remembered counsel: "You are not responsible for what others say and do; but you are responsible for what you say and do and how you respond to what others say and do."

I thought, "In a world with so many dragons, I don't recall Jesus giving permission to breathe fire."

And that's when the last specks of dust were shaken from my shoes.

BTW, grudgeholders are gravediggers; and the only graves being dug in the end are their own.

His family fell apart and he died an old bitter man.

With my anger gone, I felt only pity; and, to this day, I counsel his children.

Irregulars, irascibles, and irreconcilables would do well to read more about anointing.



Speaking of anger, Notre Dame fans are flushed.

While dynasties like the Yankees, Steelers, Tar Heels, and Tiger Woods keep rolling along, ND is spiraling to irrelevancy quicker than Republicans and mainline denominations.

For God's sake - Don't forget the religious connections and Touchdown Jesus! - they can't even beat Navy anymore.

Do you remember when they got all of the calls?


Watching Notre Dame play Pitt on Saturday, I thought I was watching a SEC game as all the calls went against the Irish who must have felt like teams playing against Alabama and Florida.

Talk about the Irish turning green with envy!


Bringing Elmer back into, uh, play, all of that South Bending anger is being directed at Charlie Weis.


Get rid of Charlie and they'll be back in the biggest BCS games before you can ask, "If Connecticut and Stanford beat 'em, is that the last sign of the Apocalypse?"



Truth is - Don't tell my dad or guys like him! - I've always liked ND since they tried to recruit and persuade my oldest not to play for Pitt back in the late 90s.

Truth is - Don't tell on my dad to guys who aren't like him! - my dad said this when I asked what he would have done if his oldest grandchild signed with ND: "I would have bought a ND hat."

Kinda reminds me just a little of Elmer.


Charlie Weis is a good man.

Anyone who was an assistant to the greatest coach of all time (Bill Parcells) deserves respect.

He's got Super Bowl rings.

He started the Hannah and Friends Foundation for children with developmental disorders as an extended expression of his dedication to an autistic daughter.

Unlike Elmer, he has remained a positive role model of the faith even as things spiral downward at ND, they're ranked just above Prairie View and Coastal Carolina, and rabid fans who actually think a football game is really that important call for his head.


Fortunately, ND is a Christian-based university and makes sure their academics and athletics represent...

Uh, forget that for now.

You remember that big fuss about...

Fortunately, Charlie has a big contract and they would never...

Uh, forget that for now.

They've got seven billion in the bank.

Fortunately, Charlie is an alumnus...and white.

Uh, let's not forget that...for now.


Do you remember Ty Willingham?

Black guy.

Good guy.

He was fired with a remarkably similar record with remarkably similar tenure.

Considering both are good guys and both sported the same...

Catch my drift?

My brothers in junior tackle football look at that and say, "It is what it is."



God knows I don't want ND to fire Charlie.

I didn't want 'em to fire Ty.

But if Charlie and Ty are alike in so many ways, how can ND justify firing Ty and not firing Charlie?

No wonder some folks get so angry.



So what do Elmer, ND, sometimes me, and sometimes you have in common?

All of us like people who are like us; or as an American Indian once said, "Justice in America means just us."

And as long as people only hang out with people who must be like 'em to be liked, Jesus will continue weeping.

As long as Elmer, ND, sometimes me, and sometimes you keep distancing ourselves from people who must be loved unconditionally if not liked personally, our credibility for contributing to constructive change will rival Paris Hilton's claim to be a positive role model for young girls.


Blessings and Love!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Things can change, uh, overnight.

I went to fill up a son's cage earlier today and the price of fuel went up 12 cents a gallon since late yesterday.

It sure ain't change that I can believe in.


Speaking of how things can change, uh, overnight, I'm gonna make a non-prophetic prediction; and please don't give any credit to me when/if it happens.

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, he's gonna make the Gipper's trouncing of the peanut farmer way back then look like another sequel to Back to the Future.

It won't matter if it's Romney, Rudy, or the rogue near Russia.

Dots will be connected.


Speaking of disappointments, I can really relate to the apostle, "I say what I don't want to say and do what I don't want to do and know I'm not as good as momma says even if I'm not as bad as antagonists advertise."

Let me explain.

I was riding my mule between hospitals yesterday; and feeling pretty good about myself.

While my spirit ain't never too far from Psalm 51, my children seemed to have picked up some good stuff from moi (scroll down to 11/12's KD), I hadn't used plastic in about a year and didn't even feel tempted when those Columbia sports pants for freezing-football-games-and-winter-mounting-the-mule were 50% off at McSports, an old enemy became a new friend, and someone shocked me by saying, "I'm glad you're our pastor."

Then some guy started beeping at me from behind because I was observing the speed limit.

Then, even though I couldn't change lanes or do anything about the traffic in front of me, he started tail-gating.

Then I wished I had worn a helmet.

Then, at a stop light, he almost sent another cage into a ditch so he could pull alongside of yours truly in the other lane.

Then he rolled down his window and cursed at me for not moving over because, well, uh, I don't know...

Then the light changed and he put his pedal to the metal and just missed knocking me to the pavement as he slammed on the brakes within inches of hitting the car that was in front of me.

Then, at the next stop light, he started beeping at the cars in front of him and waving them to the side and yelling more bad words out of his window...

Then I pulled off my shades, caught his eyes in his side mirror, and offered an Easy Rider salute.

Then I stopped for an unscheduled coffee break before my next hospital emergency, confessed my sin, asked forgiveness, and apologized to God for being so judgmental.


Things can change, uh, overnight.

As long as those changes conform to something/Someone better, they're good.

Romans 12:1-2.



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



While the specifics aren't as important as the maxim covering 'em - though I'll share 'em if you're curious in personal correspondence if you send your e-mail address to moi - our family is making a major move that has prompted profound soul-searching and required flexibility of our familial/faith wineskin.

Personally/confessionally, I didn't want to practice what I preach; because, well, uh, I've still got to finish off that damn plastic sin of the past and I'm just like those folks who say to do as they say and not as they do like those people who are so nice to everybody as long as they're in control and getting their own way but turn into devils when everything's not going their way and out of their control like, uh, me too often.

I'm so, uh, human.

I was converted by childlikeness on this one.

Daniel, our 11th grader whose Christianity has now been exposed to us/Him, articulated the maxim after I presented the specifics of the challenge/opportunity: "Well, you always say we shouldn't wait for others to do what is right."

Matthew, our 6th grader whose depth of Christianity evokes reminders of those "out of the mouth of babes" prophecies, said, "It's important to make room for what's right."

My wife decided that it's never right to count the cost of doing what's right.

Nike got it from Jesus: "Just Do It!"

Who'll stop the rain?

With God's help, you!



Bad weather more than good weather exposes character/faith.

Christianity often appears so shallow when everything's going our way and life seems so comfortable.

The true test of faith/character is when everything's not going our way; or as is so true, "Tough times don't build character/faith; but rather expose character/faith."

Job comes to mind.

Do we run away from Him and His when things aren't going our way; or do we run to be closer to Him/His?

God knows I don't like bad weather; but Jesus said it's gonna rain on everybody.

And as I've learned from riding my mule when the weather goes sour, everybody can overcome the elements if dressed properly.

That's what Daniel and Matthew have learned; probably more from their mom and members of our family of faith than me.

I think some adults, like me, need to spend more time with children who don't complicate maxims with their ignorance and selfishness which are at the genesis of all rejections of God's will for service of above self which just means to love Jesus by loving like Jesus.



O.K., it's gonna rain.

I'm not suggesting I completely get it/Him, but it seems to me that rain is a blessing or curse depending upon whether we get it/Him.

In the meantime, I've decided to ride with it/Him.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Yesterday started out real well.

I spent most of the morning in Ezra and Nehemiah; looking for tips on rebuilding people more than institutions.

A lyric from Don Hecox kept ringing in my ear as I read/exegeted/meditated/re-minted: "You can't judge a book by its cover, but you can tell a tree by its fruit."


I talked with a member who is struggling with another member who thinks you can hate other members in a Christian kinda way.

I talked with colleagues who are miserable, spouses who are miserable, school teachers who are miserable, students who are miserable, and, uh, some other miserable people.

I opened a Visa bill.

I went home, took Kopper out for a poop, and then sawed limbs for firewood from a tree that we took down, uh, a long time ago.

I didn't like that last thing; or as my dad once said to me, "Son, you think manual labor is the next second baseman for the Yankees."

Starting to think Kopper's poop might be the highlight of my day, I plopped down and turned on the dope box.

The Green Mile was on.


Stephen King wrote the novel and somebody else who no one else cares about except for a momma somewhere wrote the screenplay.

King comes off as a little twisted every now and then; but, and don't act shocked, so do we every now and then.

Even twisted trees can bear good fruit every now and then with God's help.

It's about a black man with a powerful charisma who is convicted and sentenced to death for raping and murdering two little white girls; and how the lives of his guards are changed forever when they discover he is innocent yet still condemned.

I weep uncontrollably whenever I watch it; especially when the unjustly accused (played by Michael Duncan) absolves Officer Edgecomb (played by Tom Hanks) of culpability for his execution:

Officer - "On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God,
and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what
am I gonna say? That it was my job?"

Accused - "You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done.
I know you hurtin' and worryin'. I can feel it on you, but you
oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done.
I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as
a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy
to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to,
or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other.
I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday.
There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head
all the time. Can you understand?"


And from that "Mostly..." on, I weep and wail and wish people who say they love Jesus would try just a little harder to love like Jesus to turn it all around.

Take some time and watch it for yourself.

Kathie has included it in the next video.



Actually, things got better after Kopper's poop and watching the movie.

I had a church board meeting.

We've come a long way as we, uh, cross over into our fifth year.

It was a war zone.

I'm not saying every day is a hot fudge sundae now; but after some of the Lord's pruning through the saints in the spirit of Romans 16:17ff. coupled with my Matthew 10:16 discernments that often feel like pieces of glass in my head, our boards (elders and deacons) along with our staff and 99% of our family of faith get it/Him.

Then I watched the Steelers beat the Broncos.

My family loves the Steelers.

I'm a Giants fan.

I was reminded that life often resembles a roller coaster; and Don's song.


Blessings and Love!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

November 8, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I've been a league representative or officer of a local "little league" or junior tackle football program in Greater Rockford for a decade.

There are 12 organizations with at least three teams in each one.

In other words, considering all of the players, parents, fans, coaches, officials/referees, boards, sponsors, and onlookers, there are lots of relational headaches.

I do it because I love the game, love the highest intentions of our league, and even love the raw and rowdy aforementioned who often crowd my calendar and make my life so occasionally miserable.

It's part of my beruf.

You can ask folks if I've got the charismata for it.

Like folks in the church, some will say yes with enthusiasm and others will say no with sometimes even greater enthusiasm.

Regularly, I'm asked by the naive, "Why do you put up with so much ___? You don't get paid enough for all of the time and effort that you've invested? With so many who think they know so much about everything, you must be second-guessed all the time. How do you do it?"

First, I don't get paid; except when I hit up the concessions during games and get freebies.

Come to think of it, there's only one organization that doesn't feed me at halftime; but who would expect the one closest to me to...? It must be kinda like that a-prophet-is-without-honor in...

Second, I'm a pastor and vestmented one in a mainline denomination; which means I'm already used to abuse and know how to navigate in/through/around/over/under it.

The joy comes when folks get it.

If I have to explain that to you, you don't; which means I'll just blow you off like I...

There's very little dust on my shoes anymore.


I get invited to a lot of annual banquets; and make one or two a year because, while some folks don't get it, there are only so many hours in...

When I go, I say something like this (basic outline):

Thanks for inviting me to your banquet. I have appreciated...

I've been a league representative or officer in our league for a
decade; and I want you to know all of our league representatives
are committed to the highest values of Rock Valley [Junior] Tackle
Football. I affirm, appreciate, and have profound affection for
them along with our boards, officials/referees, coaches, sponsors,
players, fans, and parents; except, of course, for those who think
every call goes against them or little Johnny better carry the
ball more than last game or his scholarship to Notre Dame
is going down the toilet. Parenthetically, don't worry about
Notre Dame! Now that they can't beat the service academies
anymore, they're gonna schedule Rock Valley Junior College
to insure a shot at the national title!

Lots of new junior tackle football leagues keep popping up;
and I think that's good because not everyone can compete
in our league.

I've also noticed that not everyone couples competitive
excellence without sacrificing a passion for character
development within a context of socioeconomic

Truth is some leagues have started because they need
to play with themselves in order to win trophies and
avoid the opportunities of contributing to national
harmony by bringing all kinds of cultures, classes,
and colors together; or as some of my brothers say,
"It's good to have leagues for slow..."

That's not to say that we haven't messed up every
now and then. We have and thank you for how you
keep reminding us.

Well, again, I want to thank you for inviting me and
feeding me and trusting us to make sure your boy
has every opportunity to get that scholarship to
Notre Dame; and if that doesn't happen, we're
hoping and laboring and even praying he will
always love this game and love this country and
take the best of what we can offer into his future.

God bless you!

Yeah, something like that.


I had a mentor who once said, "You cannot separate Jesus from any part of your life and claim discipleship."

While I don't proselytize when I'm exercising beruf outside of liturgy and other ecclesiastical trappings, I evangelize.

If I have to explain the difference to you...


Blessings and Love!

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I had five hospital visits earlier today: three members, one who should be a member, and one who was a member but left because she/he was offended by someone other than me but still calls me for counseling, care, and prayer almost weekly.

Four are in the hospital that is faith-based and one is in the hospital that always yells at me for leaving "Christian" literature in their, uh, literature racks because it takes space from all of the new age and anti-Christian crap that their chaplains and administrators prefer.

I told the latter to arrest me.

I haven't had a whole day off since seeing my parents, sister, and other relatives in Pennsylvania back in PAM; and I could use some, uh, sabbat.


A greeter/receptionist at the hospital that still likes Jesus said, "Thanks for always being cheerful. You need to offer some courses to some of your colleagues about that."

After confessing I'm not always cheerful, like when I have to go to mainline clergy meetings that do very little for God's sake or open a Visa bill or listen to socialists complain about the Yankees buying the World Series, I asked, "What's up, dude?"

He said, "Well, they don't ride in on a motorcycle! I'll tell you that! Truthfully, they're cranky and always look like they came from a funeral and they're impatient and say things to us like, 'I don't have all day. Can you please get somebody who can tell me where ___ is?' They don't smile and they treat us like ___."

"Sorry," I said, "but, remember, don't blame Jesus for Christians!"

"It's like I tell my preaching students and anyone else who will listen," I said in parting, "I don't read anything in the Bible about being a crank for Jesus!"


I've struggled with that.

Years ago, a mentor said, "Bob, you are one of...[some nice things]...but you lack joy and personal warmth."

Then he said, "You can't be close to Jesus and act like such a pouting jackass when you don't get your own way or some kind of astute theologian who can write, lecture, and preach about intimacy with Jesus while acting like someone with none."

I realized I knew a lot about Jesus but didn't know Jesus personally.

I'm not saying I've arrived like some pastors and churchgoers who haven't because you haven't come close if you think you have; but I've been filling up on Jesus ever since through worship, confession, repentance, increasing dedication to John 3:19-21, and a desire to be wholly His.



So here's a tip for pastors and other churchgoers.

Cranks don't know Jesus because you can't know Jesus and be consistently or predominantly cranky.

If you're not "more joyful" than cranky most of the time, it's a clue that you're as close to Jesus as Paris Hilton to celibacy.


LuAnn always makes me read books that move me closer to Jesus - books that challenge my wineskin, ask tough questions about my discipleship, and so on.

She dropped off Coleman and Jacobson's So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore on Tuesday.

It's about an apostle who salts/salves as appropriate: "You really have no idea what Jesus was like, do you?...When people are living in the life of Jesus, they will treasure every opportunity to connect with other brothers and sisters who are also on this journey. It will not be something they have to do, but something they wouldn't ever want to live without."

The book afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted.

Kinda like Jesus...and, uh, disciples who love Him by loving like Him.


It's been a long day already

It's getting longer by the minute.

This "Junior Whopper" will have to suffice for lunch - time and cost.

According to my Visa bill, the price is right; and according to my watch without the stem...

I've got to intercede for somebody coming out of prison, then go mediate a war between two ethnic groups before somebody gets killed, and then juggle some plastic bills in a way that would make Bernie proud, and then...

I love it!

Seriously, I live for opportunities to grow and serve.

My wife is right.

I love living on the edge and going out on the limb for Jesus.

And as I get ready to hop on the mule for our/His next adventure, I think about that conversation earlier in the day at the hospital, one of my mentors, and the diagnosis of an old hillbilly preacher: "If you one with Jesus, you one with all kinds of folks and you love all kinds of folks and you ain't no navel-gazin' wolf in sheep's clothing who gots to have his way and you hangs aroun' with 'em all even if you don't always wanna. If you is, you is. If you ain't, you ain't."

That's about right for what's so wrong but could be so right in converting what's so wrong in today's world and church.


Blessings and Love!

November 6, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I turned back the hands of my wristwatch to comply with DST before hitting the sack on Saturday.

I noticed my $19.95 special's stem was missing on Monday.

Whichever comes first, time will run out for my watch when the battery expires or DST returns.


Speaking of things that expire, I forgot all about the GOP until last night.

Acting like Cubs fans every March 15, Republicans are rollin' and spittin' in the aisles like renewed Pentecostals over big governorship wins in New Jersey and Virginia.

They lost the race in New York's 23rd Congressional District - which I think is somewhere near Montreal or Beloit or Nanticoke - but that wasn't surprising after the very hot Sarah who had her 15 minutes a year ago endorsed the guy who talked like purple Barney on hash and Newt who is not hot anymore endorsed the babe who dropped out so her true heart's desire could win which he did.

I looked at the hole where my watch's stem used to be.

I thought of the GOP.


Kairos moment.

It's a spiritual reality fixed in time.

It refers to a special opportunity in time that comes from God.

It's the proverbial window of opportunity opened by God and shut by God if not...

It doesn't last forever.

For example, our family of faith has had several peace/unity/purity services over the past year including all of the musical gifts entrusted to us. This is a departure from our usual-normal-traditional-rote-my-way-or-the-highway three services that cater to the, uh, whatevers of folks who, obviously, forget He is the, uh, Source/Creator of organs, drums, guitars, horns, and all of the rest. In other words, including or excluding musical gifts and other liturgical graces says a lot about who is really running a local church.


Anyway, whenever we have one of those combined services, the sanctuary is packed and people are psyched.

Then we go back to...

Have you ever heard of the definition of insanity?

If you want to have some fun, ask someone who knows something about Greek to tell you about the synonym for laos.


When we grow up...

It's right there in 1 Corinthians 13.


There's only so much time.

Yeah, I know all about the eternity deal.

But there's only so much time to love Jesus by loving like Jesus in time to prove we love Jesus for...uh...ever.

For example, I've had to fence some folks from leadership in churches because they thought loving Jesus entitled them to be mean and nasty to everybody else; and, recently, I was asked why I had enabled some guy to leave the church a few years ago.

I said, "Loving like Jesus to love Jesus is hardly expressed by being a prick."


But the point was made.


While studying in Rome so long ago, a priest gave a prayer-poem by another priest named Michel Quoist to me:

I went out, Lord.
Men were coming and going,
Walking and running.

Everything was rushing: cars, trucks, the street, the whole town,
Men were rushing not to waste time.

They were rushing after time,
To catch up with time,
To gain time.

Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven't time.
I'll come back, I can't wait, I haven't time.
I must end this letter - I haven't time.
I'd love to help you, but I haven't time.
I can't accept, having no time.
I can't think, I can't read, I'm swamped, I haven't time.
I'd like to pray, but I haven't time.

You understand, Lord, they simply haven't the time.
The child is playing, he hasn't time right now...Later on...
The student has his courses, and so much work...Later on...
The young man is at his sports, he hasn't time...Later on...
The young married man has his new house; he has to fix it up.
He hasn't time...Later on...
The grandparents have their grandchildren. They haven't
time...Later on...
They are ill, they have their treatments, they haven't time...
Later on...
They are dying, they have no...
Too late!...They have no more time!

And so all men run after time, Lord.
They pass through life running - hurried, jostled, overburdened,
frantic, and they never get there. They haven't time.
In spite of all their efforts, they're still short of time,
Of a great deal of time.

Lord, You must have made a mistake in Your calculations.
There is a big mistake somewhere.
The hours are too short,
The days are too short,
Our lives are too short..

You who are beyond time, Lord, You smile to see us fighting it.
And You know what you are doing.
You make no mistakes in Your distribution of time to men.
You give each one time to do what You want him to do.
But we must not lose time
waste time,
kill time,
For time is a gift that You give us,
But a perishable gift,
A gift that does not keep.

Lord, I have time,
I have plenty of time,
All the time that You give me,
The years of my life,
The days of my years,
The hours of my days,
They are all mine.
Mine to fill, quietly, calmly,
But to fill completely, up to the brim,
To offer them to You, that of their insipid water
You may make a rich wine such as You made
once in Cana of Galilee.

I am not asking You tonight, Lord, for time to do
this and then that,
But Your grace to do conscientiously, in the time
that You give me, what You want me to do.




Remember Harold?

He was one of the two or three best associate pastors to serve avec moi over 30+ years; and when accused of preaching a sermon aimed at one particular prick in the church, he said without blinking to the, uh, irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable, uh, prick, "If the shoe fits..."

I'll never forget when he asked me about people who look kinda nice on the outside but are always raising everything but heaven as a hint that something's radically wrong on the inside.

You know.

The sneaky ones - wolves in...

They're kinda like those terrorist sleeper cells that slither into a church for a decade or two and then, when we least expect it, start raising hell and spiritualizing their personal prejudices paraded as prophecies.

Be that as it always is which is why Jesus gave that counsel in Matthew 10:16, I looked at my watch and then said to Harold, "If you have a problem with your watch, don't look at the hands. Look deeper!"

Saul looked pretty.

David did not.

Samuel said, "God likes people with good hearts."

The latest translation of that text which will appear in non-Christian bookstores later than sooner reads: "God likes people who act pretty rather than look pretty while acting like pricks."



Time is running out for the Phillies.

How about you?

If He has shown you what He has just opened up for you...?

Whether it's His intentions for worship or fixing a relationship that you broke because of navel-gazing rationale or breaking those chains to whatever bondages have kept you from His freedoms or, uh, whatever, what are you waiting for?

It's time to stop living your life like a clause that ends in a preposition.

It's time to...

Well, that's for you to decide in concert with Him.

I know I'm never going to find my watch's stem.




Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


My maternal grandmother shouted at me from the steps up to her bedroom, "You'll never amount to anything!"

While I've tried to live down to her expectations through much of my life and ministry, I was in 8th grade and had it coming.

I had poured water into a flower vase where she hid her Chesterfields because her daughter forbid her to smoke in the house because she had a habit of falling asleep with a butt in her mouth.

Lex talionis.

Despite being a Yankees fan, maybe that's why I also relate to Cubs fans.



Speaking of losers, lotteries are very popular.

After I totaled up my plastic bill about a year ago, prompting recollection of grandma's prediction, I started buying one ticket whenever I feed the cage or mule.

I figure I've spent about $82.

I won $2 last week; and bought two more tickets that yielded the same result when scanned after drawings: "Sorry! Not a Winner!"

Whenever I read that, grandma and Calvin come to mind.


My parents have been buying 'em for a long time.

From what I hear/read/see, lots of people buy 'em.

Ever since New Hampshire started a state lottery in 1964 to complement Nevada's first casino in 1931 to complement all of the horse and dog racetracks to complement all of those off-track betting parlors to complement bookies to complement all of those office football pools to complement all of those one-armed bandits parked in local bastions of service organizational morality, and so on, it's been estimated that over 80% of America is into some kinda gambling.

For example, I don't wear a helmet except when I'm biking through Chicago or those states limiting my freedom of choice to keep me safe while freeing others/me to choose to end the lives of the unborn because their safety isn't that important to most Americans anymore or something else betraying intellectual inconsistencies.

Be that as long as it will be for cultures with no moral absolutes, I used to scoff at my parents for buying 'em until they explained why they take, uh, a chance: "If we win, we're gonna take care of you and your sister and your children and even your spouses for the rest of your lives."

Uh, O.K.

When I told my dad that the odds of winning are like 1 in 175,711,536, he asked, "Do you know what the odds are if you don't play?"

How does one argue with logic like that?



Have you ever read Acts 1:15-26?

It's about how the original apostles selected Judas' successor.

They cast, uh, lots.

While proof-texting, twisting texts, or other eisegetical exercises to fit your favorite ideology have limits no matter what the far left or right pretend, Acts 1:15-26 does confound fundies who say anyone who, uh, plays is going to hell quicker than the Packers without Favre.


The government says they use taxes on gambling to fund good things like public schools and other essential services like lining the pockets of...

They figure legalizing gambling makes sure they get a cut rather than other criminals getting all of it.

They figure legalizing gambling will cut down on organized crime so there's no competition for them.

It's the same logic that will enable the legalization of recreational drugs within the decade.

While there's not a lot in the Bible about gambling per se - noting there's not a lot in the Bible about God being a Democrat or Republican or even PBHO - there are lots of texts about working and saving, labor and reward, sloth and industry, and the like.

So, pour moi, it boils down to a comment from Dr. Mohler who is President of Louisville, Kentucky's The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which is the seminary in town that still takes Jesus and the Bible very seriously, and an irritating non-conclusion from KD.

Mohler: "The enormous jackpots awarded by lotteries are made possible only because millions of losers fund a very small group of winners."


Grandma, Calvin, and the lottery scanner come to mind again.

KD: "I'm not as comfortable as some people who know/pontificate what's on God's mind for everything related to faith, morality, and the only "right" times to schedule worship with or without drums/organs/guitars; meaning I'm not about to demonize, condemn, commend, or enable people who, uh, play while assuming it's another opportunity to think critically/constructively/Christianly about the, uh, choices we can still make before our freedoms are completely stripped by..."


In the meantime, I'll buy a ticket whenever I'm fillin' up.

If I don't win, that'll give my enemies, uh, a chance to say bad things about me without makin' 'em up.

If I win, Leslie gets a new van, Kathie and Pat go to Hawaii, I pay for our church's expansion instead of beggin' people to give more of what God gave to them because some folks left the church with pseudo-rationale as a smokescreen for simply being too cheap to fork over, lots of friends/even/foes are graced, and I do the wave for Visa.

It's kinda like the difference between Yankees and Cubs fans.



Blessings and Love!