Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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A staff member tried to joke when I arrived at the church around 1:30 p.m. after an early morning Bible study, visits to hospitals and a nursing home, a counseling lunch, and crap (Yes, even I must take time to...): "Where were you? On vacation?"

Though irreverent to profane thoughts rushed through my noodle, none made it to my tongue.

I just walked to my study without a word or wink.

Repeated jokes aren't funny.

It's like watching C-SPAN.

Anyway, suicidal thoughts have given way to homicidal ones after almost 35 years in the business when someone says at least once a month as she/he says upon greeting in the narthex, "I wish I only had to work on Sundays."

24/7/365 doesn't lend itself to repeated jokes like that.

I think of an elder in Ohio - an African-American judge.

I complained, "I wish you would talk to ___. She doesn't like me just because I'm white."

He said, "I'm not wasting my time. She's just ignorant."

Go back to the third sentence of this section.

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I've been spending more and more and more time in prayer, study, and reflection on what it means to model Someone better.

For mainline pulpiteers and pewsitters who think that could be anyone from BBPBHO to Sarah Palin - yes, a diverse coupling; but mainliners are that diverse these days - the Someone in mind/heart is Jesus.

I'm so old-fashioned.

I believe Christianity is about Jesus; and I like George MacDonald's definition: "God in Christ, and Christ in man...The gift of the Spirit...[is]...to make you think as God thinks, feel as God feels, judge as God judges..."

Even if it comes from a 19th century Scot, that's one of the better commentaries on Galatians 2:20.

Actually, that kinda describes discipleship at His best; which is modeling Someone better.

Again, for mainliners, that Someone is supposed to be Jesus for people who identify themselves, more than less, as Christians.

Admittedly, any connection between Jesus and some churches is just coincidental.

Be that as it should not be, Christianity is supposed to be about Jesus.

Anything less than Jesus as founder, focus, and filter of creed/deed is, a, uh, bad, but too often repeated, joke.

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An old gospel song explains discipleship this way: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

Back to MacDonald: "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy...He will never be satisfied with us until we are perfect, but He is pleased with our progress along the way...Our part in that process is to obey. Even the smallest step of obedience leads to spiritual growth and knowledge...Get up and do something the Master tells you...Instead of asking yourself whether you believe or not, ask yourself whether you have this day done one thing because He said, 'Do it'...It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe in Him, if you do not do anything He tells you."

Whoa.

That kinda stuff reminds me of the professor who said this after I asked what I should do in my first sermon, "Talk about loving Jesus by obeying Him. That'll shock 'em!"

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I know I mentioned this on 10/6 (scroll down) - if it ain't worth sayin' twice, it ain't worth sayin' once; which is really helpful to preachers who recycle sermons regularly - but Francis Chan's Crazy Love is the best book on discipleship - loving Jesus by loving like Jesus - that I've read in a long time or, uh, ever.

Scroll down to the 10/6 edition for more on that; and what I'm gonna do when my book on biker culture as metaphor and challenge to people of faith, uh, uh, uh, sells and I have enough $ to...

Be that as I hope it will be before the parousia, Chan's chapter on "Profile of the Lukewarm" (read Revelation 3:14-22 in juxtaposition to Matthew 22:34-40 as the Biblical contrast between lukewarm/halfhearted/partial "Christian" posers and truly devoted via heart/mind/soul/body commitment authentic believers in Jesus as Lord and Savior) describes what is wrong with too many "Christian" posers to identify how authentic Christians weave behavior into the fabric of faith because behavior exposes the veracity of belief.

Or something like that.

Anyway, Chan's salty introduction: "Would you describe yourself as totally in love with Jesus Christ? Or do the words halfhearted, lukewarm, and partially committed fit better?"

I'm reminded of mainliners who, uh, pride themselves on being moderate about faith; as in moderately committed to Jesus, the Bible...

On to the highlights by contrast to the lowlights: "Lukewarm people...

...attend church fairly regularly...(Isaiah 29:13)...

...give money to charity and to the church...as long as
it doesn't impinge on their standard of living...(I Chronicles 21:24)...

...tend to choose what is popular over what is right...They desire
to fit it...care more about what people think...than what God
thinks...(Luke 6:26)...

...don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to
be saved from the penalty of their sin...(Romans 6:1-2)...

...are moved by stories about people who do radical things for
Christ, yet they do not act...(James 1:22)...

...rarely share their faith...They do not want to be rejected,
nor do they want to make people uncomfortable...(Matthew
10:32-33)...

...gauge their morality...by comparing themselves to the
secular world...(Luke 18:11-12)...

...say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their
lives. But only a part...(Luke 9:57-62)...

...love God, but do not love Him with all their heart, soul,
and strength...[that's]...for missionaries...(Matthew 22:
37-38)...

...love others but do not seek to love others as much as
they love themselves...(Matthew 5:43-47)...

...will serve God...but there are limits...(Luke 18:21-25)...

...think about life on earth much more often than eternity in
heaven...(Philippians 3:18-20)...

...are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely
consider trying to give as much as possible to the
poor...(Matthew 25:34, 40)...

...do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from
feeling too guilty...(Matthew 13:44-46)...

...are continually concerned with playing it safe...(Matthew
10:28)...

...feel secure because they attend church...(Matthew 7:21)...

...do not live by faith...their lives wouldn't look much different
if they suddenly stopped believing in God...(Luke 12:16-21)...

...probably drink and swear less than average, but...they
really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They
equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they
couldn't be more wrong...(Matthew 23:25-28)..."

Chan's salty conclusion: "Jesus asks for everything. But we try to give Him less. Jesus said, 'Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness...It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile'...He is saying...'You would ruin manure.'"

Ouch.

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After reviewing that chapter with some of the most faithful guys in our family of faith, one said, "Makes me glad that Jesus is my Savior!"

Amen!

Christianity isn't about how good we are.

It's about how great and gracious He is!

Yes, Jesus expects us to pray and labor and try to be His best in our lives.

Yes, Jesus knows we'll never be actually perfect.

Psst.

That's why He has to save us from that.

Whenever you're reminded, like I was in my recollections shared in the first section of this edition, that you can never live up to anyone else's expectations, remember God doesn't expect actual perfection from us.

If He did, He wouldn't have come in Jesus as Savior as well as Lord.

That's why Christianity is good news; despite all of the bad news being dumped on us by...

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Blessings and Love!

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