Monday, January 31, 2011
Anonymity Begins with the Right Letter - January 31, 2011
It stuck out like a pimple on the end of Jessica Simpson's nose: "The group of pastors at this point remain anonymous as the white paper is not signed and has not been widely released to the public."
Apparently, for one never knows when it's anonymous, some high steeplers in the PCUSA - that's a mainline denomination that's moved to the sidelines of America's religious scenery/relevancy for folks who don't know and really don't care - met earlier this month in Scottsdale, Arizona to save-the-denomination-from-the-infidels.
You can read more about it in the 1/28/11 edition of www.churchandworld.com.
Parenthetically, having been there and done that, those guys, who remind me of the Bears and Jets (see the 1/27/11 edition for context/parallels), gotta know that other pastors who don't share their perks-infested-what-me-really-worry-cause-I'm-cozy-and-you're-not-cause-I'm-entitled perches, regardless of being on the left or right of 'em, have a very natural antagonism toward 'em born out of jealousy or some kinda sense of inferiority that they reinforce by meeting in places like Scottsdale instead of Newark, Scranton, Beloit, Deadwood, or somewhere else more, uh, common. Of course, being so insulated from their, uh, peers, I don't expect 'em to get that.
Anyway, they were inspired/indigested to write a "white paper" (Hmm! No, I won't go there! Lord, lead me not into...) with this startling announcement - for them because they usually play it so safe as not to threaten their positions/perks which I understand 'cause I've been there and done that - about their anonymous intentions: "We are ready to do something different...If the denomination has the ability and will move in this new direction, we will rejoice. Regardless, a group of us will change course, forming a new way for our congregations to relate."
Just wait until Louisville - headquarters for the franchise - gets their names!
O.K., I guess that's why they're so anonymous.
They know they better circle the wagons, stick up another finger in the air to test sympathies, and get those lawyers in tow before those infidels come after their ordinations, properties, and assets.
Ah, yes, anonymity.
So much in the shadow of the martyrs...not to mention the cross.
You probably sense my disdain for anonymity.
Don't get me wrong.
I have only suffered from poison pens on two occasions - back when I was a high steepler and trying to move a church from being an annex of Rotary to...
After those two occasions, I have always announced something like this every now and then: "...and don't bother sending an anonymous note to me about it; 'cause if you don't have the courage of your convictions, I ain't gonna read it anyway! Besides, I've learned that terrorists and people who write anonymously have two things in common: cowardice and comfort in darkness."
Sure, some anonymous stuff is cool; like getting an anonymous HD gift certificate or cruise for the wife et moi.
Come to think of it, that all ended when I left the high steeple scene.
I wonder if it has something to do with what Perry Noble calls the big choice of pastors to be real prophets/pastors or prostitutes who sell out the real Jesus for...
I don't know.
Yeah, I've had some nice anonymities in the past; like when I was a senior in high school and this girl used to call and...
Yeah, I understand how some folks are sooooooo shy and...
Blah, blah, blah.
As somebody said, "It takes guts to go public."
I would add qualities like courage, candor, humility ('cause you open yourself to rebuke and correction), and being reconcilable ('cause you're willing to talk about it before it festers into something really awful).
Anonymity just dumps and hides.
No wonder The Oxford English Dictionary includes "illegitimate" as a definition for anonymous.
People who dump and hide behind anonymity are illegitimate; which conjures up another word that may...
Aside from those anonymous acts of charity - and I just read a really nice anonymous tribute to a peer on his website that caused another peer to ask who really wrote it because anonymity breeds suspicion - anonymous gestures are, more often than not, hit and run acts absent of accountability.
Getting back to the cracker communication, there's some really good stuff in it; but, again, it's hard to trust somebody who doesn't have the courage/guts to...
Maybe they're just floating an idea to see if anyone will float with 'em...
Maybe they're just putting it out as a working paper, like KDs, to provoke thought among folks who don't think much anymore...
I don't know.
That's just it.
I was just reading about Stephen.
You know, uh, the first martyr.
He didn't hide behind anonymity.
And before you remind me that he was stoned for his efforts, take a long look at Matthew 16:24-28.
Blessings and Love!
Sunday, January 30, 2011
WIN A COPY OF FRANCIS CHAN'S BOOK CRAZY LOVE!!!
Kathie here! I'm taking over the KD blog just for a minute to share some exciting news!
We here at Kopp Disclosure are so crazy in love with Jesus and about Chan’s book Crazy Love that we want YOU to have a chance to win your very own copy! All you have to do to enter is comment to this post by stating why you are so crazy in love with Jesus. Easy enough right? The winner will be chosen using random.org and will have 48 hours to respond. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends February 14th at 11:59 pm (CST).
There is even better news for this contest! I know, I know, how could it get any better, right? Well, I'll tell you how! You can have extra entries into the contest! How cool is that?!?! These are totally optional and not necessary to win. (Please leave a separate comment for each thing you do or already do…Make sure they are separate comments because each comment is your entry!)
- Follow KD on blogger by clicking the Google Friend Connect button (over there in the left hand column). Make sure to leave a comment stating you are now following KD!
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That’s all there is to it! If you have questions, please email me, Kathie, at Koppdisclosure@gmail.com
Thursday, January 27, 2011
A Loser Looks at the Super Bowl - January 27, 2011
I just got back from one of those save-the-denomination-from-the-infidels meetings.
That's not unusual for me.
As a pastor in a mainline franchise - PCUSA or Presbyterian for short which means nothing to inquirers/seekers or even some believers who don't think Jesus and Presbyterians go together very well and next to nothing to more sophisticated religionists who want to know the brand - for over 50% of my life, I seem to have gone to as many of 'em as there are dollars in the national deficit.
Not only do I write books that don't sell, pour out my guts in a book on biker culture as metaphor and challenge to the church yet to be published by somebody who wants to make lots of $, have a son who hates me, hear from folks who are excited about the invitation to blame me for whatever needs blaming (go to the 1/17/11 edition), and love a congregation that has no clue on how much I love 'em including those who don't hang around except for the inactive roll or transfer pathologies to me to satiate something, I've been part of a denomination that hasn't had a spike in membership for longer than I've been around.
If that doesn't make me feel like a loser - Jerry Maguire's former girlfriend comes to mind - do you know what it's like to read some really awfully written books that actually sell and then come to the daunting realization that your, uh, my books that don't sell must really, really, really suck?
I don't like the last word of the last sentence either; but it captures my feelings on the subject.
Do you know what it's like to see some really awful preacher on television or know some really awful pastor of the biggest church in your town and then come to the daunting realization that you, uh, I must really, really, really suck by comparison?
I don't like the third word from the end of the last sentence either; but it captures my feelings on the subject.
I feel like such a loser so often with so many so willing to enable the...
Maybe that's why I keep going to those save-the-denomination-from-the-infidels meetings.
It's where I belong.
I had another apocalyptic moment while leaving Starbucks on my way to this morning's save-the-denomination-from-the-infidels meeting.
Caffeine helps prepare me for those kinda things.
Anyway, my favorite non-denominational covenant brother dropped in for some caffeine; and I wondered if he was going to a...
And as we we walked out together, it hit me!
I said, "It just hit me! I know why you guys are in 'emerging' churches. God is so sick and tired of the other kinds that do so little for Christ's sake that He has removed their lampstands so that new ones can emerge!"
As we drove our separate ways - don't miss that metaphor - I felt really good about feeling badly on what I'd just kinda figured out in an apocalyptic kinda way.
Staying with losers like me, the Bears and Jets come to mind.
Too little too late in both games.
Of course, you coulda read all about it back on 9/9/10 in the "Annual Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings" of KD.
I had the Packers ranked 4th and the Steelers ranked 7th with some amazing, if I say so myself, assessments of the Jets ("They remind me of Boise State!") and Bears ("Sleeper! Just look at the QB's face after an interception!").
Good games...for the Packers and Steelers.
The best teams won and will meet in Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on 2/6.
Heroic comebacks by the Bears and Jets proved their courage more than competence.
The Bears' QB does look like a sleeper and the Jets' QB is a booger; though I'm not sure what to say about that victory, uh, celebration by Pittsburgh's RM and BR after taking a knee...
Never short of unsolicited opinions, here's my take on the next most important game of all time.
Pittsburgh's QB is a throwback when it comes to toughness. And how about his escapability? I mean, let's face it, he's been escaping from the long arm of the, uh, uh, uh, defense(s) for a long time.
Green Bay's QB is not quite as tough; but certainly more skilled and intelligent; and ready to replace Favre in the hearts of cheeseheads.
The receivers are comparable with the edge going to the Steelers because Ward is the NFL's most complete receiver and never takes off a down.
The running game belongs to the Steelers with, uh, Humpty Dumpty from Illinois right, uh, behind Big Ben in, uh, uh, uh, whatever; though Iron City's offensive line sometimes looks like it's overdosed on St. John's Wort.
Green Bay's special teams are much better.
The defenses, really, are about the same with the Steelers being a tad overrated and the Packers being a tad underrated.
The coaching edge goes to the Steelers; especially since Tomlin has made the three rivers fans forget about his posing predecessor. He's gonna surpass Noll's records before all is said and done.
Green Bay and Pittsburgh are two of the four most storied franchises in the NFL with great/loyal/OCD fans; along with some posers who just hooked on to their wagons because they couldn't root for the perpetually losing teams of their childhood (see the 1/19/11 edition) which brings some posing Yankees and Lakers fans to mind.
While the Bears and Jets should be happy in exceeding knowledgeable pre-season assessments, Green Bay and Pittsburgh deserve to be in the Super Bowl.
Only people on acid and Patriots fans dispute that; kinda like folks who think Al Davis is good for football, the Cowboys are America's team, and Sarah Palin or Nancy Pelosi would be great as...
I still SP is really hot and NP is not.
Ergo, with Rodgers finally emerging from the shadow of his predecessor, I pick the Packers (27) over the Steelers (24).
Getting back to my save-the-denomination-from-the-infidels meeting earlier today, I went with an extraordinarily articulate and persuasive theologian and homiletician.
After confessing some sins to each other in a covenantal kinda way, he said, "Evil has a way of sneaking up on us in startling ways. For example, evil doesn't say, 'Let's get them to worship some rocks in the public park. No, they're much too sophisticated for that. Football is much easier.'"
Do you think there's more passion for Jesus, the Packers, or Steelers in your church?
It's one of those things that people just can't keep to themselves.
Blessings and Love!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
January 22, 2011
Whenever I teach homiletics, I quote Barth, Macleod, a salty old saint, and, uh, myself within minutes of the first class.
Barth: "It is not a matter of whether one wants to preach; but whether one can preach."
Macleod: "If it's not worth saying twice, it's not worth saying once."
Salty old saint: "You can't give away what you ain't got for yourself!"
Moi: "If you aren't psyched about Jesus, you won't get anybody else psyched about Jesus; and if you're not psyched about Jesus, you have lost the subject for the only sermons worth preaching!"
No wonder I've never been invited to teach at...
Anyway, as I've been absorbing Chan's Crazy Love and Metaxas' Bonhoeffer, I've been reminded why I felt called/claimed by God in the first place.
While my limited understanding of Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 convict me to esteem all calls/claims to honor Jesus because of the complementary character of His charismata, the call/claim of undershepherding is pretty simple.
Point all people to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Enable relationships with Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Nurture relationships with Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Salt and salve - as appropriate - relationships with Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Pay lots of attention to Matthew 10 and John 10.
Insist on personal/corporate behaviors concomitant to belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Make no compromises on loving Jesus by loving like Jesus with selflessness, sacrifice, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, and unconditional favor to all regardless of who, what, where, or when without the need or expectation for response, regard, or reward.
Never, ever, under any circumstance, in any context, no matter the cost...compromise on the truth of Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Don't confuse eisegesis with exegesis when employing the unparalleled source of His revelation in Holy Scripture in explaining/exhorting what it means to acknowledge Jesus as personal/corporate Lord and Savior.
Remember the Bible is bigger than your favorite parts.
And never, ever, under any circumstance, in any context, no matter the cost...pretend you're not as screwed up as everybody else; which is why I admit to thinking Sarah Palin is hot no matter what anybody says.
If you're a pastor because you couldn't get into law school or wasn't good enough to pitch for the Yankees, that's no reason to be a pastor.
It's like the old elder said to a young fellah being examined for ordination who said he would go into accounting or teaching if being a pastor didn't work out: "If you're called to be pastor, you can think of nothing else for the rest of your life even if you'd rather be doing something else for the rest of your life. So, son, I want to know if you're called to be a pastor before I vote on you being ordained."
Or something like that.
I was not called/claimed to control or comment on the audio-visuals, floral arrangements, lawn care, snow removal, temperature in the sanctuary, carpet color, the spirituality of oil-filled versus wax candles, menus for church dinners, table settings, where we'll store things that haven't been used since the War of 1812, the eschatology of modesty rails, the soteriology of my study's location, and other stuff distracting me from the call/claim and detouring people who need to concentrate so much more on Jesus than that lesser...
Yeah, I'll listen.
Yeah, I'll challenge/console as warranted.
Yeah, I'll direct 'em to those who are into that stuff for good, bad, and...
And to keep my sanity and positive countenance, I'll think about the last ride on my mule to South Dakota or the next 18 with my dad or something equally anesthetizing when...
I'm not above that kinda stuff.
I'm just not into it.
I'm not called/claimed for it.
I'm not that...gifted.
I really don't know anybody who is that gifted; which, I think, is why some pastors and others who think they are get into so much trouble.
We shouldn't even try to be who He never called/clamed us to be.
It's disobedience bordering on blasphemy.
I can't play the organ or drums, don't know much about computers, and hardly know how to change the oil on my Road King; so why would I tell any of 'em how to do what I don't know how to do?
Churches, governments, and other related businesses often get into trouble when people who should remain in the dugout step up to the plate; and vice versa.
Getting back to my call/claim which is not that different from others who have the same, uh, call/claim, reading Metaxas' Bonhoeffer (2010) reminded me of Bethge's, uh, Bonhoeffer (1967) that included this prompting: "Bonhoeffer maintained his interest in Bernanos, and added each new book that he wrote to his library. At his suggestion, many theological seminarists read The Diary of a Country Priest when it appeared in German translation in 1936."
That's why I read it while studying in Heidelberg in 1973.
I often quote these sentences to seminarians and anyone else like, uh, me who want/pretend to take Jesus seriously: "Our Heavenly Father said mankind was the salt of the earth, son, not the honey. And our poor world's rather like old man Job, stretched out in all his filth, covered with ulcers and sores. Salt stings on an open wound, but saves you from gangrene" (George Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest).
The truly called/claimed understand the parallel articulated by Yankees legend Reggie Jackson on his role with those championship teams of 1977/78: "I am the straw that stirs the drink."
Surely, salt that stings often gets stung.
That's what happens when you follow Jesus closely/seriously; and if that doesn't happen, it usually means you're not following Jesus too closely/seriously.
Jesus said, "If everyone thinks well of you...[and that everyone would include the bad guys]...beware!"
Beware of posers in Christian clothing who want to be liked!
Again, that's why some of today's pastors are so, uh, worthless; staying with the salt metaphor.
They're so concerned about being liked that they agree with the last person that they've talked to; making their ministries into clauses/sentences ending in prepositions that go nowhere for Christ's sake.
The truly called/claimed understand eternity with Jesus lasts a lot longer than pleasures fixed in time.
Bonhoeffer (just moments before dying for Christ's sake): "This is the end, for me the beginning of life."
I love the family of faith entrusted to me; and unless I'm assassinated or die of a broken heart first, I will pray, plead, push, pull, and keep rocking the boat to get it moving.
I love the family of faith entrusted to me; and I'm not piling up pension credits, perks, plaudits, or phony popularity at the expense of the delicate undershepherding balance (viz., Matthew 10:16).
Fortunately, I have an authentic covenant/accountability group of peers who aren't afraid to hurt my feelings if I wander too far away from the call/claim; and I am blessed with staff/officers/members/inquirers who are praying/trying to get it/Him right in our life together.
And I begin and end almost every day with a prayer attributed to the complicated Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard:
Lord, I have to make a choice, and I'm afraid that I may
make the wrong one. But I have to make it anyway;
and I can't put it off. So I will make it, and trust You
to forgive me if I do wrong. And, Lord, I will trust You,
too, to help make things right afterward. In Jesus'
I have made many mistakes in every area of my life and ministry.
I am making many mistakes in every area of my life and ministry.
I will make many mistakes in every area of my life and ministry.
That's why I'm so psyched about Jesus my/your/our Lord and Savior!
And, therefore, as Moody once said to a mainliner who complained about his methods of evangelism, "I prefer the way I do it to the way you don't do it!"
Nails not snails symbolize fidelity.
Flaming out has always seemed more appealing than rusting out or fading away.
Now go back to the first section and start...
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
January 19, 2011
My favorite sports franchises are the Mets, Jets, Nets, and Islanders; uh, after the Yankees, Giants, Knicks, and Rangers.
Though I praise God for returning moi to the Midwest where I belong about eleven years ago, I cannot surrender my allegiance/affection for the Big Apple even though I couldn't live on the island because I'd have to wear a helmet and hit those little white pebbles off mats into the Hudson.
It's harder for me to abandon my loyalty for what the crackers ripped off from the original residents than my predisposition for run-on sentences.
It goes back almost 60 years.
It started not long after I was born in DC and my dad flew off to some war in a country that's still divided and still at war because people never seem to give up their need/lust for polemics.
Anyway, my mom and I moved in with Helen and Jacob Kopp who lived at 59-26 Grove Street, Ridgewood 27, New York (aka Queens/NYC).
Grandma Kopp and I used to go for long walks along Fulton, Myrtle, and Knickerbocker Avenues; and she'd always buy 6 big soft pretzels for me along the way.
Pretzels were 6 for 25 cents back then.
Grandpa Kopp and I used to take the train to the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium to watch games and often listened to Mel Allen announce Yankees games over the radio and television as sponsored by Ballentine Beer; and, years later, we'd tune into Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson for a Mets game if the Yankees weren't on.
In other words, it's in my blood.
I confess that's why I don't emotionally/spiritually comprehend the conversion of allegiances/affections just because someone changes locations or some other base motivation.
Of course, I intellectually understand it when it comes to pastors.
Pastors are often willing to prostitute themselves to get along and cheaply ingratiate themselves with...
You know what I mean.
I confess that's why I don't emotionally/spiritually comprehend pastors who leave one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination.
Of course, I intellectually understand why they do it; usually because they're my-way-or-the-highway, about to get run out anyway, get a better deal, or forget the lessons of guys like Luther and Bonhoeffer who learned the big lesson from, uh, Jesus.
Truth is I don't know how anyone can trust a pastor or anybody else who hops around from team to team; and, uh, please take that both ways.
Dr. Wolfgang Lowe comes to mind.
He was one of my professors in Heidelberg.
I tried to suck up to him for a better grade/recommendation by pretending to like Marx as much as he did; until he scorned, "Herr Kopp, how can I ever trust you if you just parrot what I say in an attempt to fool me into thinking you think like me when I know you don't because you've come here to increase your academic credentials for a career as a professor or pastor in America?"
After returning to the Midwest, an elder confessed, after a few years, that he didn't trust me because he thought the only reason that I root for the Yankees is because they win so much.
It's great to be a Yankees fan!
Getting back to the elder, I told him that I will not because I cannot surrender my allegiance/affection to/for the Yankees just to garner some cheap and dishonest...
I reviewed for him what I reviewed for you in the previous sections.
While he still questions my leadership every now and then, he trusts my allegiance(s)/affection(s).
He knows I can't be bought.
That song was Paul Swedlund's favorite.
Paul died in 1994 - fell off a mountain in Colorado.
I miss him; and I'll never forget him saying to me about a year before he died, "I love you, Bob. So I'm going to tell you the truth. You can increase your fan base for a while by leaving our denomination. You can be a hero for the far right; but you know they're really as wrong as the other side. Please don't do that. It's cheap. And you'll be sorry you abandoned the church that birthed you and stood by you when you screwed up."
Essentially, he said, "Man up!"
Paul was right.
I promised Paul because I promised Jesus; and I took those ordination promises seriously; even if I don't always...
Praise God for Savior Jesus!
Getting back to lesser allegiances/affections, that's why I'm rooting for the Jets over the Steelers despite inlaws and outlaws who wave terrible towels.
That's why I don't really care who wins the other game and can't relate to the animosities of their constituencies.
That's why I am increasingly saddened by anyone who sells their allegiances/affections so cheaply.
I think that's why so many churches don't really trust their pastors.
If you can't be with the one you love...
How can you trust someone who changes allegiances/affections so easily to gain...?
How can you trust someone who gives up...runs away...abandons...just for/because...?
Or as a really old guy said loud enough for me to hear when I left my first church for more $ because God never calls us to less pay, "Preachers come and go, but we..."
I wonder if He...
Blessings and Love!
Monday, January 17, 2011
January 17, 2011
Some people, even in churches, don't get it/Him.
It's proverbial: eyes that don't see and ears that don't hear.
It's the challenge of Colossians 3.
Let's admit it.
It's easy to see and hear who get it/Him.
Galatians 5:19-26 comes to mind.
Praise the Lord for those who get it/Him!
A conspiracy began in Belvidere, Illinois on 12/31/10-1/2/11 with roots in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania just after Christmas (12/28/10).
Actually, it began a long time ago in Israel: "As you do it for others, you do it for Me...I give up my life voluntarily for others...No one forces Me...If anyone wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and, then, you can say you're following Me" (cf. Isaiah 53).
Getting back to Pittsburgh, there were ten of us in the house just after Christmas.
As we sat down for breakfast on 12/28/10, two family members announced/asked, "Who stopped up the toilet?"
One of the two was kinda having fun with it while the other was much more serious about it.
No one confessed.
Personally, in the privacy of my noodle, I narrowed it down to four candidates (two young girls and two young boys); but seeing and hearing no one coughing up a confession and sensing that was going to ruin breakfast if not the whole day, I felt inspired to blurt out, "Blame me!"
I was dismissed by the inquisitors because I was stationed in the basement with my wife, dog, and the other toilet.
But I refused to relent and kept announcing, "Blame me!"
Eventually, the case was dropped.
I know some folks have a problem with that.
They say it's not honest/fair/just; but when has honesty/fairness/justice been the top priority of Jesus and people who love Jesus by loving like Jesus?
If Jesus were really honest/fair/just, wouldn't everybody go to hell?
That would be honest/fair/just; but Jesus is more about grace than honesty/fairness/justice in the ultimate disposition of souls.
Jesus took the blame and paid the penalty for us.
It wasn't honest/fair/just; but it's always been more about unconditional favor for Him (aka agape).
Now, quickly, go back to the third sentence/paragraph of this section before continuing.
The word Christian means "little Christ" or "junior Jesus."
Paul said Christianity happens when we say and really mean, "It is no longer I who live but Jesus who lives in and through me."
So if Jesus can take the blame and pay the penalty...
Yes, blame me!
I stopped up the toilet!
Geez, I hope you didn't/don't miss the bigger implications/ramifications of that metaphor.
Chan: "God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love" (Crazy Love).
And sometimes that means giving up everything; including your relative innocence to bear the blame and penalty for someone else.
For example, Bonhoeffer who got it/Him.
You see and hear - maybe/hope/pray - if we love Jesus, we love like Jesus!
That's when we get it/Him.
Getting back to Belvidere, a woman pointed a crooked finger at a man; because he had to be blamed for something that offended her.
She came to me; expecting me to side with her.
She believes/believed - not sure which one yet - I like to take sides; especially when it comes to blame.
Calmly, instead, with a smile and laugh fresh off my increasing transformation ignited in Pittsburgh, I said, "Yes, blame me!"
She was confused.
Why should I take the blame and penalty for someone else?
I refused to stop: "Yes, blame me!"
It came up in a fellowship gathering.
There was an argument.
But, then, Norby interrupted, "Yes, blame me!"
He got it/Him!
Then Julie interrupted, "Yes, blame me!"
She got it/Him!
Then Ev interrupted, "Yes, blame me!"
He got it/Him!
Then LuAnn interrupted, "Yes, blame me!"
She got it/Him!
The conspiracy spread(s).
The woman withdrew her accusing finger; and word spread of a place, a safe haven, a beacon for Him, where people are not blamed but invited, welcomed, included, and loved with selflessness, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, and unconditional favor.
It is a place where burdens are shared and carried together.
It is a place where being in love means more than being right, convincing, and winning.
It is a place where they have forgotten what has divided them because divisions disappear through Jesus.
It is a place where no one takes sides because they are walking alongside Jesus.
Blame has been transformed into blessing.
It has become a...church of Christocentric proportions.
The conspiracy continues to spread.
Word has reached KD of pewsitters/pulpiteers across America who are confronting/confounding/converting the contentious in their regenerating churches with a simple sacrifice: "Yes, blame me!"
They're getting it/Him!
Blessings and Love!
Friday, January 14, 2011
January 14, 2011
Though I got a full academic ride after the first semester of my freshman year in college, I still had to load trucks for UPS from 3:30 - 8:00 a.m. and deliver drugs for Bill Wilson at night (pharmacy) to cover books, munchies, gas/insurance/adventures for my mule, dates with babes who always had more $ than moi, and tithes/offerings.
Now that the incompetent thieves in Springfield, Illinois have increased state income taxes by 2/3rds in an effort to cover their incompetent thievery, I'm looking for a night job between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. to make up the difference aggravated by two years of decreasing compensation for my day job (no increase is a decrease if you know what I mean and you do if you've ever taken a Dave Ramsey course).
I'm not complaining about having to supplement my income; 'cause that's what a partner/parent/provider is supposed to do.
I don't have any rich relatives to...
These are tough times and everybody's scratchin' and...
Actually, I'm kinda excited about it; 'cause if I can find something like a night guard gig sitting at a desk with an occasional walkabout, I can work on my next non-best-selling book so I won't have to...
Besides, I'm kinda obsessed with Chan's Crazy Love and Metaxas' Bonhoeffer and getting back to the roots of my beruf.
If I have to explain that to you...
If you've got something within 25 miles of Belvidere...
Getting back to delivering drugs for Bill to make ends meet while in college, I worked with Jackie who was a good friend in BSA, high school, and college.
He died a few years ago.
Smoked a lot...even when we were counselors at Camp Acahela.
I miss him.
I'll never forget that Mountain concert at King's College.
And I'll really, really, really never forget the day that Bill caught Jackie in the basement of the pharmacy filling out an order for a perky little filly if you know what I mean.
Bill called Jackie et moi into his office and counseled/cautioned, "Don't ___ where you eat!"
I'll never forget that.
I haven't always followed that advice; but I've never forgotten it.
Loyalty comes to mind.
Having experienced some wrenching betrayals lately, causing me to think of how I have betrayed some folks over the decades, I pulled up an old quote from my noodle about it: "Loyalty is the heart of all virtues, the central duty amongst all duties...the willing and practical and thorough-going devotion of a person to a cause...to unify life, to give it center, fixity, stability" (Josiah Royce, The Philosophy of Loyalty, 1908).
I think that's what's wrong with Democrats, Republicans, and mainliners today; and probably lots of, uh, others like, uh, me.
Maybe that's why an old pastor like I am now counseled me when I became a "senior" pastor not long after turning 30: "There are three basic non-negotiable qualifications for everyone you hire: loyalty, loyalty, loyalty."
I got it; though I didn't/don't always perceive/practice it.
Yeah, that's about right.
Loyalties rarely extend beyond the navel these days.
Have you seen how quickly and how ridiculously/rationalistically people will divorce themselves from each other?
You know what I mean.
People will stop talking to each other because of...
You know what I mean.
People will leave churches because of...
You know what I mean.
Have you listened to the far left and far right on talk radio and television lately?
You know what I mean.
Have you seen those pastors who are leaving one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination while pretending to promote Jesus who says His followers overcome those kinda divorces through Him?
You know what I mean.
It doesn't matter what I mean!
Read John 15:9-17.
Do we know what He means?
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
January 11, 2011
I didn't feel like singing.
My manuscript on biker culture as metaphor and challenge to the church was rejected by a publisher last week.
It's raw, redemptive, and, ergo, risky; too raw for conventional religious publishers and too redemptive for secular rags.
Though the reviews have been encouraging to its marketability from a broad spectrum including a 1%er, major magazine editor, two theologians, HD employee, and author of one of the best-selling biker books today, it's not uncommon for a book to get a few pink slips before...
Yeah, I know that.
I'm not giving up.
I believe it's going to be published before the parousia.
Uh, do you know anyone who wants to make lots of $ while publishing something that will provoke thought as to authenticity in the...?
But, dang, lots of folks don't like to think anymore.
Church and government are filled with 'em.
They just want something/someone to tickle their fancies.
The parable of the wineskins is about as popular as those texts on tithing.
Still, I can almost hear Marv Albert screaming in my direction, "Rejected!"
Of course, I'm a pastor; so I know all about rejection.
I still don't feel like singing.
I was asked to write a story about something that I learned as a child for a children's book.
Immediately, I wrote "An Apocalyptic Moment in Fifth Grade."
It's short but...
I'll never forget one of the most apocalyptic moments in my life.
I was a fifth grader in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania's Lincoln Street
Sitting in homeroom during lunch one day and gobbling down my
peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich while trying to trade an
apple for a Hershey Bar or Mallo Cup, I watched my homeroom
teacher Mr. Moore take out his false teeth and proceed to gum
graham crackers to death.
It was disgusting.
My appetite for a Hershey Bar or Mallo Cup vanished.
I looked over and saw Donna making eyes at me.
We had a thing going on.
She would give penny candy to me if I would go into the
cloakroom and let her kiss me.
Though it was my first introduction to gender economics
and other things, I felt badly about it; but candy is
Melvin was squirming in his seat again; which meant he
was about to make more than a little puddle under his
desk or expose himself to Tommy and Muffie. He did
that so much in fourth grade that Miss Chiskewicz lost
it, bit him on the neck in frustration, and ended up in
an asylum as part of her premature retirement from
Ernie was picking his nose as usual; then wiping it
under his desk.
Ann was picking her butt; then smelling her fingers.
Bobby was ripping off somebody's Tastycakes.
And Marilyn, the first girl that I actually wanted to
kiss and did under the big pine tree in front
of the library on Main Street just before summer
vacation because she was so much different
from the other girls which I later realized was
witness to her being in the third year of fifth grade,
started stroking my back without me objecting.
I thought, "Everybody in here is sooooooo messed
Then it hit me in a startling experience of adolescent
logic, "If everybody in here is messed up, then I
must be messed up too."
I hadn't even heard of Calvin.
While the words weren't in my mind yet, I sensed the
whole scene was totally depraved.
God knows I didn't pay attention when my Sunday
School teacher Miss Blanchard talked about some
kinda original sin in some garden in Bible days.
It was an apocalyptic moment.
For the first time, I realized what those guys who were on
the receiving end of God-breathed-Bible-writing must have
felt like along with a gnawingly greater and growing
awareness that I just might need a Savior to rise above
what was happening around and including me.
I've thanked God for Jesus ever since.
A true story.
Review: "It's short but...scatological."
Marv Albert: "Rejected!"
I guess it's hard to write a story for a children's book when your book on biker culture as metaphor and challenge to the church has been rejected.
Truth is I've written five books that have been published and only trail Rick Warren and the toothy guy in Texas by about, well, uh, geez, as many volumes as there are dollars in our national deficit.
Of course, I'm a pastor; so I know all about rejection.
He wants me to sing.
Staying with rejection, I've often deserved it.
I can be a real jerk at times.
That's one of the reasons why I love Jesus so much.
He has such a divine way of getting past, uh, me.
But, truly, there are times when I'm not as bad as...
It doesn't take a pastor to know what I mean.
I felt like that on Monday and Tuesday; catching everything but heaven for...
The particulars are irrelevant; because, well, you know what I mean...
Suffice it to say I was on the receiving end of some undeserved as well as deserved...
Bad thoughts swirled within.
They've rejected me as their pastor.
The staff hates me.
Nobody likes me.
I'm the lead in the Eagles song about wasted time.
Take the job in California.
Yet God has a way of picking us up when we've been knocked down.
Ella Jane's devotional for 1/11/11 ministered to my aching spirit: "Sometimes the hardest thing we can do is to wait and to hold on to our dreams when our flesh wants something now. Don't be so blinded by now that you lose sight of your destiny. You have a great destiny. You have a God-given passion...You are blood bought, redeemed and called out...Don't throw it away! Don't settle for a 'normal' life."
Then came Bob Gass' devotional of 1/11/11: "Growth is an uphill climb. If you want to keep growing, you must never stop climbing."
It's true: "Affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, proven character produces hope, and hopes does not disappoint..."
While I'd prefer not to start with affliction, He always, uh, renews/resurrects sooner than later and definitely in the end.
I'm getting ready to sing.
Two books are changing my life: Francis Chan's Crazy Love and Eric Metaxas' new biography on Bonhoeffer called, uh, Bonhoeffer.
They're returning me to an authenticity always at risk as a mainline politician, uh, I mean, uh, pastor.
Chan has helped me to remember/renew/resurrect my crazy love for Jesus that started when I first experienced His crazy love for me (see 1 John 4:19).
Metaxas' Bonhoeffer has helped me to remember/renew/resurrect my decision to die for Him and His if necessary; and it's always necessary in some way.
Chan and Metaxas' Bonhoeffer have also reminded me of the starkest existential fact preceding the eternal promise of discipleship (read Matthew 10:22 if you dare).
Staying with Bonhoeffer, not long before he died to love Jesus by loving like Jesus, he wrote from his prison cell, "Who am I? They often tell me...a hypocrite before others?...a contemptibly woebegone weakling?...a beaten army?...Who am I? They mock me..."
And then Bonhoeffer answers in Him who always takes our rejections and renews/resurrects sooner than later and definitely in the end, "Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine."
I want to sing!
Anyone who takes discipleship seriously will be rejected someway/somehow/someday by somebody.
Judas has many reincarnations (metaphorically).
I spend a lot of my time talking to pewsitters/pulpiteers/politicians/police/ponyriders and just all kinda, uh, people who are catching everything but heaven.
I remind them as I have had to remind myself in the last several hours that God uses moments of rejection to pave the way for greater growth in time in preparation for complete acceptance/affirmation/affection after...
Certainly, I would prefer to skip the pain - self-inflicted or otherwise.
I don't like pain; as certified whenever I fill in the blanks of those doctor/dentist forms asking about allergies with PAIN.
Yet as Paul wrote for anyone who takes discipleship seriously, "I consider the sufferings of this present time not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us."
He allowed Himself to be rejected to make that possible.
If you've got ears that...eyes that...
Besides, I want to sing!
Blessings and Love!
Friday, January 7, 2011
January 7, 2011
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures
from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men
who will deal likewise with their fellow men."
Francis of Assisi
The vet and just about everybody else wanted to euthanize - euphemism for kill - Kopper; especially after he bit a friend's nose.
I'm 99% against abortion and capital punishment; and if you don't understand why, you and I are not reading the same Bible.
I wouldn't consider killing Kopper and remember asking the vet, "Is this what we do instead of trying a little harder to get along?"
My mind raced at the time: "Yep! We kill each other in so many ways so often in church and society; so why not kill Kopper?"
The friend recovered with nose unscarred and without any pieces missing.
Kopper and I still start every day around 4:30 a.m.
First words: "Well, Kopper, this looks like another good day to praise Jesus!"
But Kopper came close to last rites.
Except for Jesus, nobody treats me better than Kopper.
If you haven't read the latest biography on Bonhoeffer that came out last year - Eric Metaxas' Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - you gotta get it.
Of course, the way left won't like it because Bonhoeffer was really into Jesus and Holy Scripture and the way right won't like it because he didn't pretend to know Jesus and Holy Scripture better than anybody else; though, psst, I think he did when compared to most pewsitters/pulpiteers.
While I studied all about Bonhoeffer while doing my academic thing in Germany and visited most of the sites related to his story back in the early 70s and devoured Bethge's biography, Metaxas, the prize-winning author of bestseller Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, revisits the saint in a most compelling, convicting, and converting way.
One story from his first years as a pastor in Barcelona caught my attention within the context of this KD.
A ten-year-old boy "came into my room with something I had requested from his parents. I noticed something was amiss with the boy, who is usually cheerfulness personified. And soon it came out: he broke down in tears...'Herr Wolf ist tod' (Mr. Wolf is dead)...and then he cried and cried..."
Continuing, "Mr. Wolf is a young German Shepherd dog that was sick for eight days and had just died a half-hour ago. So the boy, inconsolable, sat down on my knee and could hardly regain his composure...He played only with the dog, each morning the dog came to the boy's bed and awakened him - and now the dog was dead. What could I say?"
"Then suddenly," Bonhoeffer recalled, "his wrenching crying became very quiet and he said: 'But I know he's not dead at all...His spirit is now in heaven, where it is happy...Will I see Herr Wolf again? He's certainly in heaven.'"
Bonhoeffer: "Look, God created human beings and also animals, and I'm sure he also loves animals. And I believe that with God it is such that all who loved each other on earth - genuinely loved each other - will remain together with God, for to love is part of God. Just how that happens, though, we admittedly don't know."
Reaction: "You should have seen the happy face on this boy; he had completely stopped crying. 'So then I'll see Herr Wolf again when I am dead, then we can play together again.'"
Bonhoeffer: "I repeated to him a couple of times that we don't really know how this happens. He, however, knew, and knew it quite definitely."
One the greatest theologians of all time who walked the talk concluded: "This whole affair was as important to the young boy as things are for one of us when something really bad happens. But I am almost surprised - moved, by the naiveté of the piety that awakens at such a moment in an otherwise completely wild young boy who is thinking of nothing. And there I stood - I who was supposed to 'know the answer' - feeling quite small next to him; and I cannot forget the confident expression he had on his face when he left."
Out of the mouth of...
Not long after being ordained and just two months past my 25th birthday, octogenarian shut-in Viola Hawk asked me to visit her because she wanted me to do something for her that no pastor had ever done for her despite repeated requests.
She asked me to baptize her dog.
As I look back on that, I confess I'm not sure if I did the right thing when I didn't do it.
Yo! Anal theologians who know more about Jesus than Jesus Himself and pretend to know more than guys who really knew Him better than me maybe you will ever know Him like Bonhoeffer who actually sacrificed himself like Jesus to love Jesus! Yeah, yeah, yeah! Save your dogmatics! Jesus gets you in! Nothing more! No one else!
O.K., I feel much better.
Let me put it another way - the ultimately right way when it comes to any question of faith and morality.
Would Jesus have been upset if I baptized the dog of an octogenarian shut-in?
I'm learning new things about Jesus who never changes every day: "Behold, I make all things new...even you!"
I've missed some lessons.
But, come to think of it, I'm learning more about love from Kopper than...
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
January 4, 2011
I stopped drinking to get drunk after puking up a half gallon of kosher blackberry wine about one minute into 1/1/69; and because I was spending too much money at Burger King and not getting much else done, I stopped smoking weed not long after starting college.
Parenthetically, that's why I've always trusted BBPBHO so much more than Hillary's husband.
Though both toked, only Rick Warren's favorite President admitted inhaling; and every child of the 60s knows Bill really...
When BBPBHO was asked if he inhaled, he asked rhetorically in response, "Isn't that the point?"
BTW, isn't the big bong from Arkansas the same guy who said he and Monica didn't have, uh, anything other than a cigar together in the...?
Be that as only God really knows, I'm not about to throw stones from my...
Truth is wine, weed, and women have never provided the kind of personal peace that is available to anyone through intimacy with Him.
I mean the kinda peace that Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:24-27.
The new year began quite dramatically in our family of faith as the Holy Spirit moved on us over 2011's first worshipping weekend - a wedding on 1/1 and two other worship services on 1/2.
Planned by a young bride and groom with uncommon spiritual maturity for just about any age, the wedding's theme was 1 John 4:19. Another clue to the holiness of that service was their request to me as presiding pastor in the first premarital session: "We don't want a show or performance. We want a whole worship service; not just some 20 minute thing. We want the service to last at least an hour with full prayers, Bible readings, songs, foot washing, laying on of hands,..."
Then came Sunday!
Between services, I wrote for prayer support:
I am sharing this with folks who do not need a lot of commentary;
for I can barely articulate what I have just experienced at our first
Simply, God showed up thickly, convincingly, compellingly,
and lovingly (for, through, in, for).
Right now, as I write, I am, as Wesley said, "strangely warmed"
and transformed and transported.
It/He has begun.
We will never be the same.
I will never be the same; experiencing a few healings that I have
prayed for years so I can witness more authentically as well as
I write to you with a prayer that I shared at the end of the
first service - that He will show up as He did in the first service
in the second service.
Please pray no one misses it/Him.
Blessings and Love!
P.S. Now I will soak and pray the same for you and yours
After the second service, I wrote, "Praise the Lord! God granted our prayers! Both services were...and even our prayer line has changed (815-544-3535)!"
My favorite devotional writer in Oklahoma wrote on 1/3 to confirm the moment: "Praise God! He goes where He is wanted, sought, and hungered for. Evidence that you and your congregation desire for Him...as the deer pants after the waterbrook!"
Then a note from Rockford on 1/4: "3 of us in our church have been coming to church about an hour ahead of time for several weeks now and praying in and over the sanctuary for just this kind of thing to happen: for those rivers of Living Water to just rise up and begin to gush forth, to see real manifestations of God's glory..."
Between Sunday's services, I soaked/bathed in Him in my study.
Then I prayed, "Lord, I know Satan knows our family of faith is ready to increase our intimacy with You and ministry for You. Please prepare my heart and mind for the attack that will come. I beg Your help to honor You in the attack for Jesus' sake in whose name I pray. Amen."
After the second service, I was asked, "Why didn't we sing old hymns with the organ today?"
I smiled and conversed in a gentle though direct way.
Yes, it/He has begun.
Some ears are deaf and some eyes are blind to the Spirit.
I am more sad than mad about 'em; because they're missing it/Him and the peace that...
A story from Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith comes to mind:
The first time Henry Covington accepted Jesus as his personal Savior,
he was only ten, at a small Bible camp in...
One evening...a counselor asked if he'd like to pray with her...
"Yes," he said...
"Do you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior?" she asked.
"Yes, I do," he answered.
She took his hand.
"Are you confessing your sins?"
"Yes, I am."
"Do you want Jesus to forgive your sins?"
She leaned her forehead into his. Her voice lowered.
"Are you asking Jesus to come into your life?"
"I am asking Him."
"Do you want me to pray with you?"
"Yes," he whispered...
The next day, a friend of his got a BB gun, and they shot
it at the frogs and tried to kill them.
You can lead a horse to...
Not everyone at the wedding got it/Him.
Not everyone at the two Sunday services got it/Him.
I know because an undershepherd knows the sheep as well as Savior; and I know you can't get it/Him without loving Jesus by praying/trying to love like Jesus which always includes selflessness, mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, and unconditional favor.
Some people are still looking everywhere and to everything/everybody but the only One who can provide what is needed most.
Psalm 62 comes to mind.
Blessings and Love!