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!

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