Monday, August 29, 2011

For Christ's Sake, Shut Up!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



When in doubt, don't.

When the light is green, go.

When the light is red, stop.

When the light is yellow, stop and reflect some more before...

That's some of the best advice that's ever been given to me.

I haven't always heeded it.

Too bad; because what I've said and written haven't always been good.


A friend bought a patch for his leather vest: "Shut Up and Ride!"

I saw one that I'll get next time: "Stop Whining!"

I think it was Francis who said, "Sometimes I use words when I preach."

A missionary counseled, "A life lived for Jesus speaks louder than any verbal testimony."

My wife says, "Too many words and not enough love."


Recently, while lamenting the dysfunctions in our world, decline of America, and pret' near demise of my favorite ecclesiastical franchise, I got a tad too testy with a brother who wanted to have a meeting to discuss evangelism; and for mainliners and other relatives who don't know what that means, it's eternally more about pointing people to Jesus as Lord and Savior to save souls than trying to strategize to save institutions.

I started talking and writing about, uh, well, uh, it doesn't really matter because...

Most people have already made up their minds about just about everything; even if it's only coincidentally related to Jesus and Holy Scripture.

Abortion, human sexuality, marriage, and even Christology come to mind.

Lines have been drawn in the sand.

More talk ain't gonna change minds already made up.

That's why I'm really, really, really trying to spend more time in prayer; begging Him to help build broken bridges by turning hearts/heads/guts to Jesus through Whom reconciliation is still possible, needing to fill myself with much more of Him to squeeze out the poisons, and trusting increasing intimacy with Him will yield more Christlikeness in my talk and walk.

Indeed, and I may be wrong as some have already suggested upon hearing this suggestion, I think, with all of the dysfunctions and decline and pret' near demise of so much so previously treasured, we should stop all meetings for a while - government, schools, churches, you name it - and just pray, pray, pray, and pray, pray, pray, and pray some more until we get it/Him as His body if you know what I mean.


Again, confessing I may be wrong, I think we need to talk and write and meet less and, uh, well, uh, just hang out with Him until we remember/renew/revive/resurrect what made America and American churches so much better than the current versions.


For Christ's sake, I've got to shut up if it has nothing to do with honoring Him.



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Only Hope/Fidelity for First Presbyterian Church's Survival/Salvation and...

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I said, "Islamofascists and other imperialists are terrorizing the world."

She said, "Only a very small minority of Muslims actually participate in or support terrorism."

I asked, "What percentage of Muslims do you think 'participate in or support terrorism'?"

She said, "Only 10% or less."

I said, "I feel much better. That means only about one hundred million. Please, give me one of your "Co-Exist" bumper stickers."

She said, "You think everything in our world and country and even denomination is falling apart, unraveling, and, I guess, going to hell."

I said, "Uh, yes, I do."

She said, "You are sooooooo pessimistic."

I said, "The word 'realistic' comes to my mind."

She said, "Then why do you even bother anymore?"

I said, "Because Jesus commanded me and still compels me to make Jesus known as the only true Lord and Savior who delivers beyond the meanness, madness, and misery of life in this world."

She said, "You're fatalistic."

I said, "You're naive if you trust in anyone or anything other than Him to buoy you in time and guarantee heaven after it."

She said, "I know your church. Lots of people are not on the same page with you on this. I've heard you even argue about..."

I said, "You're right! But that doesn't keep me from praying and trying and..."

She interrupted, "Your church is as bad as every other one and you're no better than the people you criticize."

I said, "You're right on the latter; but on the former, God told me how to distinguish the faithful from those seduced by others in the church entrusted to me and in your church and other ones. I was really upset after mountaintop experiences in Joplin, with Billy, and with brothers a few weeks ago riding across America to find folks fighting over the most spiritually inane stuff since the squabble over the so-called 'modesty rail.' You can read about that in a recent edition of that you and most folks in our family of faith never read. I was restless for days. I wept. I prayed about it for days. Then He spoke to me and provided the path to the cure for what's ailing our world, country, denomination, churches, and the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois."

Then I reiterated the path/plan/vision/whatever (see the next section for a letter to First Presbyterian Church).

She said, "Good luck."

I said, "I don't believe in it. I trust Jesus."

She rolled her eyes at me and the conversation concluded.



We can no longer assume everyone is on the same page in our world, nation, denomination, or even on the corner of Lincoln and Main.

We can no longer assume formers, inquirers, church members, officers, or even staff members focus on Jesus in all things at all times in all places with all people and filter all deliberations and decisions through Jesus.

Hence, I will ask session [the ruling body in a "Presbyterian" governed particular church despite occasional/peculiar attempts to run 'em by hearsay, hierarchy, petition, mobocracy, or "People are saying..."] at its next stated meeting to adopt the following question as the first question asked at the beginning of any decision-making opportunity in any board, committee, group, or whatever in our family of faith at First Presbyterian Church; and it will serve as a continuing governor of our life and ministry together:

What does this/that
have to do with

Attempting to answer this question will get us on the same page - His!

Attempting to answer this question will honor Him which always helps His.

Attempting to answer this question will distinguish authentics from posers.

Blessings and Love!


We're like most churches.

We're not immune to the economic pressures of our time; and I have told our staff that none of us will receive compensatory increases for the third straight year and that additional income will have to be generated by taking on side jobs. As pour moi, the Lord keeps His Psalm 91 promises to me as I keep mine to Him. Same goes for everybody else.

We're not immune to the crankiness generated by the meanness, madness, and misery of our modern world; as folks transfer their frustrations about stuff beyond their control to what they think they can control in the church sometimes scarcely coincidental to anything related to Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture. We've had people leave along with some who've blackmailed us with attendance and $ if we don't, uh, whatever it is that they want. Yes, new folks are trickling in; but $'s increasingly tight. Yet as I trust His Psalm 91 promises to me as I keep mine to Him, we are trusting His Psalm 91 promises to us as we keep ours to Him; and our officers along with the growing remnant of truly faithful folks who really focus on Jesus and filter life and ministry through Jesus are really starting to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus no matter who, what, when, or where.

Many local/national/worldwide prophetic voices have told me that we're "this close" to the greatest revival that has ever hit the corner of Lincoln and Main; which is their way of telling us to keep keepin' on despite what I've mentioned in the three preceding paragraphs.

Though it does not matter eternally despite my existential charge with eternal implications as undershepherd, my energies and excitement for knowing Jesus and making Him known in our neck of the woods seems to be expanding exponentially; or as I've been saying, "I feel like I've grabbed onto the coattails of the Holy Spirit for the greatest ride of my life!" In other words, even if I have to find a job as a night watchman to make ends meet (Help me find one!), I'm commanded as called and compelled to praying/making the corner of Lincoln and Main into a safe haven for all as an uncompromisingly Christ-centered and Biblically based ministry and unconditionally loving beacon for Jesus.

And in my greatest hours of disappointment after seven years of trying really hard not to get in the way of His best intentions for our family of faith, He gave one simple sentence-question to guide us to honoring Him and establishing a taste of heaven on the part of the earth entrusted to us: What does this/that have to do with Jesus?

That question will cut through the "golden calf bull" of former idolatries and bigotries and selfishness that have been killing the church for decades.

It doesn't mean we're always gonna get Him right; but it does mean we'll have a better opportunity at being faithful.


I don't think I'm that much different from you.

I don't think our family of faith is that much different from yours.

But I do think that it's time to stop playing ecclesiastical games and take being the Body of Christ much more seriously than ever before; and the reason I think that is because I don't think there's much time left to be faithful if you know what I mean.

That's why I thought I'd share this revolutionary kairos moment at First with you.


Dial 815-544-3535 for a kerygmatic version of this KD.



Blessings and Love!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sturgis Metaphors to Stop 'Em from Killing Your Church!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I picked up two helmet stickers near Sundance, Wyoming for the false sense of security beanie rarely worn to encourage pewsitters/pulpiteers/formers/foes who not so secretly wish I were dead; or as someone recently said to an officer of the church and wasn't discouraged in saying it: "I'll come back when there's a change at the top!"

She meant, uh, moi and our most outstanding support staff.


I should be gone in about 20 years or when I fall off my chrome pony and hit my helmetless noodle on Route 66's blacktop; whichever comes sooner than later.

So there's hope for 'em.

Be that as it may be sooner or later, the two helmet stickers: "If you see my bike on a trailer, call 911" and "Jesus may love you but I think you're an ___."

The former refers to posers who trailer their bikes to MC rallies and then try to imitate Wyatt and Billy by ridin' up and down Main Street (apologies to those who trailer 'em to hawk 'em or show 'em for trophies not related to actually ridin' em) and the latter refers to, uh, uh, uh,...


Speaking of folks who poison biker culture(s) as a metaphor for those killing your church (and I mean your church), I think of three categories of church killers: (1) unconverted clergy; (2) unconvinced laity; and (3) pharisaical reincarnations.

Unconverted clergy are the ultimate posers in the church; pretending to promote what they don't actually believe themselves: Jesus is Lord and Savior and believing in Him as Lord and Savior means loving Him as Lord and Savior by loving like Him because He is Lord and Savior.

Unconvinced laity are the products of unconverted clergy. While the Biblical model is shepherds don't follow sheep but rather follow the Good Shepherd to guide and protect even if it means being the salt that often stings to heal and the light that exposes the dark posings of too many pewsitters/pulpiteers, too many of today's clergy have produced mirrors of themselves: errand boys/girls for the wandering desires of those entrusted to them who agree with the last persons they've talked to in making their ministries nothing more than sentences ending in unfaithful prepositions.

Pharisaical reincarnations are the idolaters who forget the first two of the big ten inhibit fidelity to the other eight; grossly apparent among those who talk more about Osteen, Warren, Graham, Obama, Palin, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, RCers, AGers, Missouri Synoders, and others than Jesus Himself in keeping with His high priestly prayer of John 17, Indeed, they rarely talk about Jesus by name because they're so obsessed/possessed by, uh, almost everyone and everything other than Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.

They're killing your church.


The reports are in; and another big one is being released today.

8 churches in America are dying every day.

Yours may be next.

Many surviving churches will join 'em because they are poisoned and paralyzed by unconverted clergy, unconvinced laity, and pharisaical reincarnations.

Here's the tough part.

The supposed "silent majority" in churches don't have the, uh, uh, uh, whatever to take on the supposed fewer miscreants for, uh, God's sake.

As I learned long ago in my first polity course with Dean Adams at PTS, abstentions acquiesce to the majority; not just signaling the rare conflict of interest (whose?) or the weenie impulse or feeling it is possible to gain favor with everyone during difficult moments by walking on the razor's edge of duplicity.

In other words, those trailering posers on Main Street in Sturgis have relatives in your...


The good news is the church no longer guarantees position, prestige, and vocational advantage in our American culture.

Simply, people who are authentically Christian have no more and often less position, prestige, and vocational possibilities than...

Why do you think authentic Christians who don't hide Jesus in their talk/walk are catching everything but heaven at work, in school, on the athletic field, and...?

Why is this good news?

Because it means people who are coming into churches today - yes, the ones coming in right now - aren't about anyone or anything but Jesus!

They don't care about the idols.

They don't respect the idols.

They are all about abandoning them - anyone or anything getting in the way of an authentic relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior.

God will bless them.

Read Exodus 20.

Read Matthew 5-7.

Look at the churches that are...



Blessings and Love!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Why God Is Punishing America, Mainliners,...

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I had just come off three mountaintop experiences: (1) Partnering with sister churches to bring relief to Joplin, Missouri after the devastating tornado of 5/27/11 and experiencing Tony's observation of years ago: "Churches getting their hands dirty for Jesus don't have enough time to ___ and moan about small stuff!"; (2) Playing in a "unified" Special Olympics golf tournament with Billy and observing so-called "challenged" sisters/brothers exemplifying the love of Jesus so much better than the "normal" ones who are best at hating each other in a Christian kinda way; and (3) Riding with Rainmakers MC and half a million other brothers to South Dakota and noticing how a motorcycle can do for bikers what Jesus cannot seem to do for too many pewsitters/pulpiteers: grace, peace, and love.

I'll get back to that.

When I was committing adultery, I thought it was great.

I never thought it was right; realizing I was insulting God's holiness as I was injuring my wife and children by redirecting affections due them alone.

Of course, that's the thing about most sins.

Bad things are only tempting when they taste good.

I'll get back to that.

I came crashing back to the real "world" in the church when I got back from SD; immediately attacked for signage that tried to balance our identity as a family of faith in an increasingly troubled denomination.

The signs: "First Presbyterian Church" and "Our Family of Faith...Why Not Make It Yours?"

Candidly, the latter sign covered up a memorial FPC sign donated by someone who left the church about a year before I arrived because of, uh, uh, uh, the typical irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable, uh, uh, uh,...stuff.

So we had two signs left - the old brick one with FPC in very old English letters on it and the invitational banner that covered up the redundant FPC one.

Summarily, folks who liked one over the other began to, uh, well, uh, you know...

Naturally rather than spiritually which often happens even among folks with some knowledge of Jesus, I, uh, caught, uh, it.

Getting back to my mountaintop experiences, I've learned to really savor them; because posers in pewsitters/pulpiteers' clothing can really bring ya down.

Getting back to enjoying adultery while never thinking it was right, I realized it's impossible to keep the second half of the big ten if you don't keep the first half; especially the first few.

Look it up.

Exodus 20:1ff.

There it is.

That's why God is punishing America, mainline denominations, marriages, families, and churches like...


When anyone or anything becomes more important than loving Jesus by loving like Jesus, causing contentions and angers and wedges and divisions and segregations and divorces and the like, it's symptomatic of idolatry.

Now read 2 Chronicles 7:14 and 1 John 1:4-10.

That's the cure.

Locally, as a confessional/repentant approach to the idolatry in our family of faith at FPC which may apply to the idolatry in your, uh, whatever, Kathie, webmaster of and co-producer of KD on, came up with a very practical expression of getting it/Him: "If we really want the right sign, take down all of them and put up just one: Jesus' House!"




Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Living a Lie for Almost 4 Decades

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Cliff Mansley is pastor of Joplin, Missouri's New Creation Church.

I was his mentor nearly 3 decades ago; and he has been mine for the last decade as our Lord has used him to break the chains to pret' near damned imperial priesthood as part of His renewed call to authenticity.

As you've read here or learned via and, our family of faith at First has partnered with him and other churches to bring relief to Joplinites through New Creation Church.

Anyway, Cliff preached in Belvidere last Sunday; and, between services, God used him to expose a lie that I've been living for almost 4 decades.


Noting we observe the sacrament by intinction, Cliff asked, "Why don't you look people in the eyes when you serve communion?"

I said, "Because I don't want people to look at me and be distracted from Him. That's why I haven't looked people in the eyes for almost 4 decades."

He said, "You are called to communion with Him and His and that happens when you connect through eyeball to eyeball and spirit to spirit during the sacrament. I believe you're wrong in your approach and I'd like you to think about it. Moreover, when you do look people in the eyes, I have seen our Lord use you to..."

Because he mentioned something that can only be experienced, I cannot complete the last sentence of the previous paragraph.

I said, "Cliff, I will pray about this between services; and if..."

During the prayer, I was convinced of Cliff's constructive Christlike correction and compelled to look people in the eyes during the second service.

Now, the lie.

I have/had spent almost 4 decades using the rationalization offered Cliff upon his inquiry.

Truth is I couldn't bare to look people in the eyes because I love them so much and felt/feel so badly in knowing so many of them talk behind my back in less than redemptive ways and would/will reject me without warning as soon as I fail to...

It just hurt so much to express my love through such vulnerably transparent eyes knowing...

He spoke, "If any man would come after Me, he must..."

I listened.

I heard.

And I saw what Cliff saw and...

I will look people in the eyes during the sacrament from last Sunday's second service on.


Jesus did not say, "Behold, I make all things old."

Holy Scripture does not even slightly suggest everything stays the same when intimate with Him.

While this comes as a surprise to folks who believe He stopped inspiring new music after the green hymnbook of the 30s or red one of the 50s or blue binder of the 70s, our Lord always has new and fresh and exciting ways to know Him and make Him known.


They distract from the truth.


And only He can save.


I thank God for using Cliff to expose a lie that I had been living for almost 4 decades.

I said I was doing it for God when I was really doing it for me.

I wonder how many other lies are...



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Leaving the Church/Denomination

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



I inherited him as an elder/officer if you know what I mean.

It was long ago - shortly after I was ordained.

He was an enfleshed exposition of Jesus' warning: "They come in sheep's clothing..."

Whenever we had a hymn sing, he requested his favorite: "All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give...I surrender all."

Nobody bought it.

He didn't really believe in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture and acted like it; especially when he didn't get his way.

And then, one day, when I relieved him of a responsibility because he couldn't/wouldn't work with anyone who didn't goosestep to his passive-aggressive intentions just beneath the veneer of his baritoned mouthing of his favorite hymn, he left.

While nobody really missed him and our committees/boards stopped walking on eggs 'cause they didn't have to anymore with him gone, I often prayed he would come back; not because I liked him 'cause I have a particular undershepherding responsibility when it comes to passive-aggressives if you know what I mean, but 'cause I've never believed Jesus came, died, rose, and reigns to segregate, splinter, divorce, or do anything other than enable the holy communion through Him that is one of the greatest evidences of getting it/Him.

Simply, people who separate themselves from other people over anything but the basic Christocentric confession are posers and just don't get it/Him.

Read the 8th sentence-paragraph of this section again.



I'm reminded of sitting with an especially faithful elder at a Friday night high school football game a few years ago.

Pointing to different people in the stands or walking around, he said, "She/he left the church about 30 years ago...25...20...15 years ago...since you came!"

As I've thought about that "elder" who exposed himself shortly after I was ordained and think/pray about this faithful elder's observation/concern/intercession, I've come to realize lots of people leave churches because of other people but can't stay together through/for or 'cause of Jesus.

As I look at the crumbling of mainline denominations and the neo-monasticism of splinter groups who want cookie-cutter religion in violation of the varieties/diversities so often heralded in Holy Scripture, I've come to realize lots of people/pewsitters/pulpiteers/posers leave one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination 'cause they all stink of their fallenness 'cause of issues like abortion, human sexuality, some hyper-theology only coincidentally connected to Holy Scripture, and so on but can't stay together through/for or 'cause of Jesus.

Isn't that blasphemy?

Isn't that an affront to the character of Jesus and everything exemplified in Him and expected of His?

Read the 8th sentence-paragraph of the first section again.



Another tragedy.

Have you ever noticed how the same people who are always leaving churches/denominations are among the most shameless when telling everybody else that everybody else can get along through/for Jesus?

Have you ever noticed how some of the most irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable people posing in pews and pulpits are among the most strident in saying everybody can be reconciled through/for Jesus?

Wouldn't it be nice if they practiced what they...?

Gotta go.

I've got something in my eye.

Be that as I am like other posers, go back to the 8th sentence-paragraph of the first section.


Blessings and Love!