Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Yellow Star of David

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



When I was studying in Germany in the early 70s not long after the Munich massacre, I met Colin in a pub on Heidelberg's haupstrasse over neuer wein and zwiebelkuchen.

He was the most Yasser-Saddamish-looking United-Kingdom-passport-carrying fellah that I'd ever met.

He seemed intrigued by me studying theology in preparation for seminary/ordination and I was curious about someone who looked sooooooo unlike any Englishman that I'd ever...

Yeah, I know, it sounds like the kinda profiling stuff that we're not supposed to do at airports or any kinda police checkpoint anymore.

But this is now and that was then; and I didn't know I was being a bigot by assuming...

Anyway, it must've been the neuer wein or him needing absolution and thinking I could give it 'cause he confirmed my PLO suspicions.

It must've been the zwiebelkuchen or me needing to honor my high school girlfriends Mimi, Ruthie, Esther, and, uh, so on or my Teutonic forest roots 'cause I started mocking him, Black September, and all other PLO look-alikes as being sooooooo extraordinarily courageous, tough, and manly as evidenced by their butchering and blowing up children, non-combatants, and other defenseless sorts.

I'll never forget how he concluded our only exchange: "Priests care for the injured and grieving. You talk about justice and we act on it. Just stay in your churches praying on your knees and leave the important matters of the world to us."

I'll never forget that.

It haunts me.

I remain discomforted by his assumptions.

Sadly, from what I can see, too many people like me as profiled by him aren't discomforted by such assumptions.

Too bad.

Go to google, click on Niemoller, and check out the famous quote attached to his name.


My favorite Special Olympics world golf champion and I advanced to the state championship in September by winning our area tournament last week.

We played in the "unified" division - a Special Olympics athlete being teamed with, uh, uh, uh, uh, "normal" athlete and combining scores to determine who, uh, advances.

Well, I showed up wearing my typical golf stuff; but it wasn't long before a Special Olympics staff member put a yellow wristband on me to identify me as a competitor and then a volunteer from Rockford Special Olympics handed a team shirt to me. In other words, except for my wristband that sported "Coach" under my name, I looked like every other competitor in the tournament.

That became especially real to me when I went into the pro shop; and as I was entering, I overheard an apparent member come to a quick halt in saying to the guy behind the counter, "I guess they just left them all out of the..."

I let it go.

I asked the guy behind the counter, "Do you have any Advil?"

He leaned over the counter, peered so intently into my eyes, and asked, "Are you sure it's O.K. for you to have Advil?"

I let it go.

"It's O.K.," I said, "I take two before I play, two while I'm playing, and maybe a few after I play."

While still leaning over the counter and peering so intently into my eyes, he continued, "Maybe you should ask someone with your group about this. Aren't you on other medications?"

I let it go; but I felt like saying, "Yeah, I take anger management pills; and I think they've just worn out."

But, again, I let it go; defying my roots in the Teutonic forests of Germany in favor of not embarrassing my golf partner.

Actually, it was kinda fun to experience life from another angle throughout the day: "Are you O.K.?...Do you need some water or juice?...Would you like a snack?...How about a cookie?"


Go to google, click on Niemoller, and check out the famous quote attached to his name.


After picking up the gold, one of the two guys who I'd interrupted in the pro shop earlier in the day approached me for absolution, "I didn't know that..."

"No problem," I said, "it happens all the time."

He couldn't let it go.

He asked, "What do you mean?"

"People," I said, "always make assumptions about other people which is why we look like such ___es so often."

He let it go.

I can't.

Go to google, click on Niemoller, and check out the famous quote attached to his name.


My favorite Special Olympics world golf champion asked why I'm still wearing the yellow wristband.

I said, "Because I love you and want people to know I love you."

He asked when I'm gonna take it off.

I said, "When it falls off; but, I guess, I'll probably get more over time to replace it."

He said, "Pastor Bob, I don't think people will understand."

I said, "You're right, Billy."

He let it go.

I can't.

Go to google, click on Niemoller, and check out the famous quote attached to his name.



Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



A friend about to go home to Jesus often irritated lazy daisy pewsitters/pulpiteers/posers: "Do you know what time it is?"

Eternally, he believed the birthpangs of the eschaton are increasing in frequency and intensity.

Existentially, he warned people of postponing who, what, where, and when sooooooo long that...

When I visited him yesterday, he could not speak; but those words burned through his eyes and...


I've been returning to His roots; and I'm increasingly challenged by an old story from Theophane the Monk.

A young disciple wanted to give himself completely to God.

Arriving at the monastery, Theophane asked, "What is it you want?"

Answer: "I just want to give myself to God."

The young disciple expected Theophane to be gentle and parental; but he shouted, "NOW!"

Then the monk picked up a stick, started running after the young disciple, and kept shouting, "NOW!"

Many years later, the maturing man confessed, "Theophane still follows me. He's still carrying that stick around, running after me, and shouting, "NOW!"


Pewsitters/pulpiteers/posers struggle to exorcise the demonic seed of talk, talk, talk over walk, walk, walk.

Meetings over ministry even when pewsitters/pulpiteers/posers pretend meetings are ministry have become rationalizations for lazy daisies.

Jesus, in essence, called us to be here now.

We cannot change the past.

While we can kinda prepare/pray about the future, it's got its own...


Before it's too late.



Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Traveling's RIP

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



My wife succeeded in getting me to trim my half-beard-goatee-whatever.

I decided it was easier to do that than, uh, well, gulp, sigh, uh, you know what I mean.

It struck me as an odd request/demand; considering it's about the only place that hair grows on me anymore apart from in my nose and around as well as in my ears.

Yeah, I can grow some on the sides of my head in a lame attempt at a monk cut; but as my sister says, "You'll either have to succumb to corrective combing or just shave it off because you look as ridiculous as those old hippies who grow it long on the sides so they can make a ponytail in the back."


I never knew people cared so much about how other people...

Actually, that's not true.

Remember Pearl?

She's the one who asked me to shave off my beard almost thirty years ago because it reminded her of the bad relationship that she had with her son; and after I shaved it off with the expectation of earning her affirmation and affection, she greeted me with that sweet, sick, and syrupy transferring smile, "Now about your moustache..."

I won't begin to repeat the stories of former students and continuing colleagues who've told me about pewsitters/pulpiteers as well as "relatives" who think they're entitled to control the kinda vehicles that we drive, what and where we eat, where we live and send our kids to school, and just about everything including the bewildering disdain for them that's in the privacy of our minds.

It's like the little boy growled during discipline, "You can make me sit down and shut up; but you can't control what I'm thinking about you right now!"


I'm closing in on the completion of six decades in time.

I don't think I've ever told anybody anything anytime anywhere anyhow related to the kinda stuff identified in the next to last sentence-paragraph of the preceding section; even when trying to endure/overcome the toxic fumes of cologne/perfume that would knock over a bull at fifty paces.

Sure, I've had fun in the privacy of my mind; like when I'm at the beach and see old saggy guys in Speedos or women wearing swimwear that, uh, well, gulp, sigh, uh, you know what I mean.

But it hasn't ever dawned on me to try to control their, uh, whatever.

I'm not saying I'm better than anybody else; 'cause as anybody who's ever read these pages knows, I've been really humiliated by five books that have never threatened sales of the profound prose of the Hawaiian-shirted guy on the left coast or toothy guy in Texas or even Howard Stern's favorite hooker.

The church that I pray/try to love like Jesus loves me doesn't invite people to worship that much because, uh, well, gulp, sigh, uh, you know what I mean.

Really, I know my, uh, place.

Yet, in one of the very, very, very few things that I'm not as lousy a person, partner, parent, pastor, presbyter, professor, police chaplain, and just about anything else beginning with the letter p as lingerers, formers, foes, or exposed express, I'm not thaaaaaaat bad.

It hasn't ever dawned on me to try to control others.

That's for Nazis and other Satanistic sorts.

I just try to point people to Jesus as He expressed Himself in Holy Scripture, let 'em decide on Him which is their choice no matter what hyper-Calvinists say, and don't stick my nose into their business like a dog lunching on her/his own vomit.

People, to me, are God-made-liberated snowflakes - each quite different and beautiful in her/his own way.


I'm not thinking about any of that because I'm headed out on my chrome pony in a few days to see my parents and sister in Pennsylvania for even fewer days; and anticipating the typical disdain for bikers and inevitably inane queries about why I don't wear a helmet except in states that abort babies but insist I wear one because they think it will make me look better in the casket.


It's all about control.


'Cause if people really cared that much about me or any other biker, I wouldn't have to...

Besides, just think of the hope extended to my enemies when I don't wear one.

Actually, that's not what I'm talking about.

It's about traveling.

It's about being free to be who God made us to be; and when God is the author, our freedoms don't inhibit the freedoms of others and we live quite nicely concomitant to Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.

My Jamaican missionary friends say the islanders refer to our trip from alpha to omega as traveling.

I believe we travel well as long as we don't become detours to the traveling of others; or become detoured by the control needs of, uh, Nazis and Satanistic sorts.

And, of course, that can happen as long as we remember it's all about Jesus and His gift of freedom for all and not...

So, God willing, I'll have more to say about the ride when I get back next week.



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's All About...

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Have you ever noticed how some people think what they're doing is sooooooo much more important than what other people are doing?

That comes to mind whenever I look at a bulletin board and see someone has tacked what's important to them over what somebody else tacked up that's important to...

Staplers and duplicating machines also come to mind.

Isn't it miraculous how often the person to use either just before you had the exact amount of staples and paper for what they were doing?

Ah, let's salt!

Have you ever noticed how some people think their worship/witness/whatever styles are sooooooo much better than what other people are doing?

Have you ever noticed how some people really don't care what others, uh, "like" as long as what they, uh, "like" gets top billing?

Have you ever noticed how sooooooo many cults/sects/denominations like to celebrate their esoteric, ethnic, and socioeconomic distinctives?

I missed that part of Christianity.

It must be in Acts 29.


It's like the person who returns back to the church from a weekend renewal run by...

You know what I mean.

They come back with an "air" that seems to say, "You can never know Jesus like I know Jesus until you've been to..."

It's like people who've been to Israel: "Your faith will never really come alive until you've walked where Jesus walked."

Obviously, from what we hear, Paul got it wrong in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.


O.K., here's my point.

It's all about Jesus.

It's not about what I think or like or feel or want or...

It's all about Jesus.

It's not about drums or organs or guitars or...

It's all about Jesus.

It's not about Rick or Joel or Billy or Presbyterians or Baptists or Missouri Synoders or RCers or AGers or...

It's all about and now and forever.


When we arrive at those gates, He ain't gonna ask if we thought or liked or felt or wanted or...

He's gonna ask, "Do you love Me?"

Jesus never wept this way, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you shoulda been a Presbyterian or Baptist or Missouri Synoder or RCer or AGer or...Then you coulda and I woulda..."


It's all about Jesus: "Come to Me, all..."


Ah, we know that.


Then why do some who pretend to know Jesus but really can't as witnessed by their exclusions still fence the table, segregate by polity and fine points of theology that are often only coincidentally consistent with Biblical Christology, and so on; persisting in their damned distinctives at the expense of John 17?


I'm beginning to think such behaviors emanating from such beliefs are blasphemy against what the Holy Spirit has revealed about who He is and how those who get it/Him behave from such belief.

Truly, what good is your faith if all it does is cause you to hang out with people who are just like you?

Uh, Jesus said something about that; and if you don't know He did, it goes a long way in explaining the sectarian, segregating, schismatic, and, uh, let's just say it, sinful, uh, religions masquerading as Christianity.

That's why Francis often led his order in prayer, "Grant us in our misery [the grace] to do for You alone what we know You want us to do and always to desire what pleases You."

It's all about Jesus.

Anyone else and anything less just ain't Christianity - just a religion masquerading as Christianity without His saving dunamis.


So here's the deal.

If we love Jesus, we love His people...and hang out with 'em even when we're not completely into their...

If we don't, we don't.

It's that simple.

It's that...eternal.

Think about that previous sentence.


If we don't/can't/won't, well, uh, sigh, gulp, we must be born again and from above.

Of course, we don't have to practice what He preached/personified.

Hell, we've been doing that for...

How can we wonder why the world is so divided when people who say they love Jesus can't even...?


If we don't/can't/won't overcome ourselves for peace, unity, and purity through Jesus, we will continue to enable people to be twice as fit for hell as we are ourselves.

Ain't no posers in heaven.



Blessings and Love!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Why Some Grow and Others Don't

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


"It's better to burn out than fade away."

Neil Young



A very famous church guy counseled sooooooo long ago: "You will need at least four things for a healthy church growing closer to Jesus: (1) staff and officers who really believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and have a passion for worship and witnessing; (2) your personal commitment to Romans 16:17-20 regardless of personal or professional cost; (3) a church so involved with mission that it doesn't have time to navel-gaze; and (4) a fire within yourself for Jesus that never dims."

Tony said that to me for the first time when I was a boy wonder imperial priest in Kansas City.

That was, geez, over 25 years ago.

He's repeated that over the years to me; 'cause I've often been too full of myself to hear or see...

I've been praying and laboring on it ever since; and while I'm just scratching the surface of what it means as someone trying to follow Jesus and undershepherd others trying to follow Jesus, there is a quickening within that increasingly quickens in a redemptively redundant kinda way.

First, you can't give away what you ain't got yourself.

Second, judgmental my-way-or-the-highway posers must be identified and isolated lest they infect others with their pharisaical leaven.

Third, Matthew 25 kinda stuff is the best cure for meology.

Fourth, if you're not on fire for Jesus, you won't ignite anyone else.

Or something like that/Him.


Dorothy urged, "Please tell people to tithe! Don't cheat them of the blessings that come with tithing!"

That's tough in the mainline; 'cause mainliners have discounted the tithe to around 2%.


That may be among the reasons why they are so...

The preceding section outlines other reasons why they are so...

Be that as it is, Dorothy had a green thumb for the market and kept giving it away while getting more all the time which meant she had more to give away while getting more all the time which meant she had more to give away while...

George MacDonald: "God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy...but He is pleased with our progress along the way...Even the smallest step of obedience leads to spiritual growth and knowledge."

Or something like that/Him.



Recently, an elder plopped down in my study and exclaimed, "After reading what you've been writing and listening to what you've been saying, I fully expected to come in and find you in sackcloth and ashes wearing sandals."

Response: "When I finally get over myself completely, you will."

He smiled.

I added: "As for the sandals, it's hard to shift gears with 'em."

It was an inspiration or indigestion; and I'm still trying to figure it out.

It's kinda like following Jesus.

It's a metaphor for something/Someone.

I better go back to Tony's counsel.

Or something like that/Him.


Blessings and Love!