Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inviting People Back to Church

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



October 2 is World Communion.

An opportunity to experience/express unity through and for Jesus.


An opportunity to show the world how to overcome segregations and separations for the enfleshment of Psalm 133.


Hey, you, stop laughing!

O.K., I should have preceded all of that with the word theoretically.

It's true - the possibility of unity through and for Jesus along with the reality that the continuing disunity among people who say they love Jesus but won't love like Jesus is among the greatest continuing scandals in Christendom.

Titus 1:16.


One of the most sobering moments in my life/ministry (increasingly impossible to distinguish one from the other) happened while sitting with an elder during a high school football game as he pointed out people in the stands and walking around and observed, "She/he left our church about 30 years ago...25 years ago...20 years ago...15 years ago...10 years ago...since you came."

It happens.

Apart from rationalizations for the exits which rarely relate to Christianity as exemplified in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture, I've felt compelled to write a letter to people who've left First's family over the past 30 years:


Our Lord has compelled me to write to people who have left our family of faith (invitation)at First Presbyterian Church (name) over the past 30 years for many reasons:

1. Our Lord loves you, the saints at First love you, and I love you.

2. Regardless of your membership status, as many who are not members of First know, I am always available to you/anyone as needed, appropriate, and gifted by our Lord:

3. We are not maintaining an "inactive" membership roll or keeping names on our membership roll of people who do not worship with us as able, support our life and ministry as able, and bear fruit with us as gifted. Surely, friends in nursing homes, serving in the military, or otherwise unable to be in worship, work, and witness with us are active members of the church as requested and revered. Just as surely, an "inactive" membership roll is a hypocrisy that has no place in the church. As one saint said, "You is or you ain't." As we move to the greatest revival ever on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, we join hands with sisters and brothers
who love Jesus by loving like Jesus;

4. A big part of loving Jesus by loving like Jesus is exposed by a reconciling spirit. Paul's counsel/caution to Titus is clear: "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him" (1:16). I am convinced the saints at First are reconciling and your relationship with Jesus is partially measured by your prayers and stepping orward to reconcile. Jesus even included this proof of partnership with Him in what we call The Lord's Prayer; and it was so important to Him that it is the only part of the prayer that He immediately explained (Matthew 6:12, 14-15);

5. Personally, I have often failed when it comes to #4; yet confessing that sin is no excuse for persisting in it. Hence, I have stepped out of my boat and taken the hand of Jesus in recommitting myself to the redemptive health of the Presbyterian Church (USA) through my increased prayers and participation in Blackhawk Presbytery, supporting churches like St. James Roman Catholic Church when they are attacked by witting and unwitting accomplices of anyone other than Jesus, inviting you to return even while acknowledging we will need our Lord's help to overcome initial hesitations and discomfort that He will heal by our obedience, aligning with anyone praying and trying to love Jesus by loving like Jesus, and not being concerned about the response, regard, or reward. I find nothing in the Bible to support divorce, wedging, schism, division, segregation, and other self-righteous separations. I am convinced God builds bridges, relationships, friendships, families, and reconciles, heals, helps, forgives, includes, enables, elevates, enlightens, and encourages. When we express the opposites, we expose a kinship not to Him. I want to join hands with Jesus and you to model Someone better;

6. If you have found a new church home, praise the Lord! We want you to stay and grow and glow with His for Him. If you have not found a new church home, return now. You will be glad you did, your reconciling spirit will model Someone better, and the world just may be attracted to Jesus through you; and

7. Divorcing one's self from the Body of Christ is divorcing one's self from Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture. While we want you to be active in the life and ministry of His Church and don't esteem one part of the Kingdom over another, there are very, very, very important eternal as well as existential matters at stake in being a member of His Church.

Simply, we want to encourage the integrity of our relationship with Jesus and you; and we do not want you to miss out on the revival that has come in concert with our Blessings Campaign and marvelous renovations/expansion, exciting offerings in programming, and the fidelity of our worship services and expanded liturgical leadership.

If you would like to pray with me about this, I'm in the chapel just about every Sunday from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Blessings and Love!



I'm not suggesting the preceding is a paradigm.

It's a hastening.

We don't have much more time to be faithful if you know what I mean.

Besides, my pewsitting and pulpiteering friends, we have no credibility when it comes to heralding reconciliation through and for Jesus while remaining irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable.

Paul: "Imitate me as I imitate Jesus" (1 Corinthians 11:1).




Blessings and Love!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strong Calm Sanity

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



A friend was confronted by a cranky woman, 'I don't like the way you pray. You use common, earthy, language; and I prefer something a little more dignified from my pastor. Your prayers are a little too familiar for my taste. I wish you would refer to God as Thou instead of You. Your prayers are too personal."

Response: "Listen, lady, I wasn't talking to you."

Same woman: "Besides, I'm tired of you praying like God is talking back and forth with you. He never talks to me."

Response: "That's because you never shut up and listen."


I needed a lot of prayer on Sunday.

My new old truck (1996) died at 5:00 a.m. (dead battery and, uh, something else).

Now how do I pay for my trip in October to see a really famous person with my covenant brothers?

My grandfather's gold watch that I only wear for Sunday worship and weddings stopped ticking while sitting silently in the dead truck; evolving to ornamental status in my life.

Now I've got to check my cellular for the time because my other watch picks up 15 minutes every 55.

A pastor in town called to tell me that some formers, squirmers, nitpickers, and naysayers have been talking with their counterparts in other churches and conspiring against me; especially since I defended the honor of our local priest and his parish against unGodly slander, ridicule, belittlement, and other false witnesses.

Now I've got to watch my back in the community.

An elder told me about another elder who has been bad-mouthing me all over the place because, well, uh, it doesn't matter because, well, uh, you know how it goes...

Now I've got to watch my back in the church.

Yeah, it was just another typical Sunday.

Fortunately, I got into worship by 7:20 a.m., attended an adult class after that and was encouraged by the fidelities of all in attendance, got back into worship at 9:45 a.m., did a little counseling after the second service, put together some notes for tomorrow's memorial service, returned to the church for a prayer meeting from 3:00-4:30 p.m., and then really started praying about my trip in October as my truck received medical attention from Farm and Fleet at 4:45 p.m.

I watched Breaking Bad with my wife at 9:00 p.m. and the Steelers/Colts during commercials.

No comment.

Truth is I was fine as soon as I went from navel-gazing to Him.

I'm always fine when I go from navel-gazing to Him.

The Psalmist is right: "God inhabits the praises/prayers of His people."


Recently, I was blessed with a "firm calm" (the words that came to me to describe it) in just about everything that I do with anyone anywhere.

I attribute that to increased intentional time just hanging out with God in prayer; allowing Holy Scripture to guide my prayer and listening a lot more than...

I have discovered my concerns/fears fade as my concentration on adoration, confession, and thanksgiving increase; noting I don't spend too much time on supplication anymore because, well, uh, geez, uh, He knows...

I don't blink or flinch in the face of the enemy anymore; and I take on its witting and unwitting accomplices with a "firm calm" flavored with evangelizing joy.

Of course, I know I must fuel that "firm calm" with increased intentional time just hanging out with God in prayer; allowing Holy Scripture to guide my prayer and listening a lot more than...

Oswald Chambers put it this way: "It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruit bearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus...When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic...The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him."

He offers this to anyone who will take the time to be with Him.


I'm going to have other issues with my truck.

It's old like...

I may not make that October trip.

I can use the cellular until I get another watch.

Yeah, Jesus said I/you/we're gonna be hated for really loving Him as the only Lord and Savior by people who have more than one master.

That's how, uh, it goes.

I/you/we may get some help with people who really love Him as the only Lord and Savior.

There are saints watching our backs.

And as long as we hang around and out with Him, we're gonna be just fine sooner than later and definitely in the end.

Strong calm sanity.

Firm calm.


Now...and then.



Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

June Warned Leslie!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



June warned Leslie on our wedding day, "He's a kite. He's out there. He needs you to keep him from flying off completely; but, remember, don't try to hold him too close to the earth or you'll destroy what you love most about him. Hold on to him; but don't try to ground him. He wants to soar! He must soar to be who God meant him to be!"


Isaiah 40.

Colossians 3.

That's the, uh, mindset.

So, as Erma would say, I haven't always been a hot fudge sundae for my wife...or mom or anybody else.

To mix metaphors/genders, I'm Mary in a world/church of so/too many suffocating Marthas.

Because I believe He's alive and active in anyone who wants to soar with Him, I'm not afraid to change, expand my wineskin, travel those less-traveled roads, or whatever you and Eldridge wanna call it.

I just wanna ride!

Indeed, it really hasn't been that hard to change...

I don't know any other way to feel more safe and secure than holding firmly/calmly onto the hand of Jesus and stepping out of the...

If I didn't wanna upset the fundies and anal-spiritualists in my life, I'd say I feel like Peter Pan; and you can take that anyway that you're going to anyway.

Hey, I know this sounds rather self-indulgent; but I was taught early in seminary, "Preaching is truth through personality."

Nobody cares what Cyril of Alexandria said. They want to know how Jesus is working in your life because then maybe...

O.K., I'll get to the point.

If you think you've arrived, you haven't started.

If you think you're just fine, you've got more room for improvement than...

I feel like I've just grabbed onto the coattails of the Holy Spirit for the greatest ride of my life and ministry.

I feel like I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and about to replace those trickles with rivers.

And if you don't know what any of the above means, that means you gotta spend more time looking up than down and around.


While I know He loves everybody the same in the end, Jesus always seemed to like children the best.

Surely, I don't need to repeat the Sunday School version of why; but, using some more metaphors because Rice said they stick to the soul more than cold/wooden/academic propositions, I think it's because kids like kites more than hot water bottles.

Children are always learning, exploring, changing, growing, and...

It takes the child in older people to get it/Him: "Behold, I make all things new...even you!"


My first mentor and home pastor, The Rev. Harold F. Mante who's been home with F/S/HS for many years now yet remains as alive as ever to me because he is by His eternal graces, often counseled/warned, "Never assume too much or too little about anyone."

Doing that, he meant, makes an ___ out of you and me.

Well, because I was preparing for what I'd always been called to be/do, that meant, specifically, for gals/guys like me to never assume pulpiteers/peers/pewsitters are real close to Jesus or real far away from Him.

Just wait and watch and you'll find out.

Titus 1:16 read both ways comes to mind.


I don't know if any of this makes any sense to you.

I'm having a hard time with it myself.

All I'm trying to say is don't stop looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Jesus; unless, of course, you wanna be grounded.


BTW, June is older in actual age than me but shares the same spirit of agelessness in Jesus.

We met over three decades ago in a New Jersey church where I could never really figure out anybody's age.

That's why it soared.




Blessings and Love!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Banter and Moan Ministries

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



It just hit me.

I don't complain much anymore.

With sooooooo many bantering and moaning about everyone and everything these days, I figure somebody's gotta give up, uh, pitching for receiving.

People gotta crucify somebody for their sins.

God knows how that goes.


Seriously, I've been thinking about putting a sign on my study's door: "Banter and Moan Ministries."

I'll start this Sunday!

Hey, I'm not kidding.

Why not?

I spend sooooooo much time listening to folks banter and moan about...

It's sooooooo pathetically real beyond the irony to observe Americans who have sooooooo much bantering and moaning about...

No wonder Mother Teresa quipped upon being asked what she thought of our prosperity and power, "I have never seen such poor people in my life."


I used to be disappointed about 'em all; until I got the original sin and total depravity thing.

I think of people who pray that there's not a big war with WMDs that wipe out lots of people.

Not me.

I pray, "Whoa, Lord, thanks for the extra time! People are hating each other sooooooo much these days that I'm stunned that we're still ticking! Whatever You're doing to keep us from the logical conclusion to our cantankerous, cranky, and cruel nature, dankeroo!"

I don't expect people to do anything other than hate each other; unless, of course, you know, they really start behaving like they really believe in Jesus which means loving Jesus by loving like Jesus.


I'm not talking about the church.

Yeah, that's my ghetto; but every part of our global and national cultures are going through the same thing.


As Bishop Camara warned long ago, it's a spiral of violence that we can't seem to exit.

People can't seem to help themselves from bantering, beating, bruising, butchering, and...

Really, I'm not talking about the church; 'cause the church, the real one consisting of people who really love Jesus by really loving like Jesus, is counter those cultures.




There aren't too many of 'em around these days.


While the one that I pray I'm, uh, serving is trying more than less these days like the remnant of others, we still let people get away with murder if you know what He means.

Come to think of it, one of the best but few examples of what He has in mind for folks who claim to be part of His church is Special Olympics.

You know, the people who are considered "challenged" who play games.

Less than two weeks ago, I participated in the "unified" golf division of the Illinois Special Olympics State Championships in Decatur, Illinois after winning the sectional with my partner Billy.

Billy is considered "challenged" and I am considered, uh, "normal."

Let's go there.

Billy is always loving, joyful, calm, patient, kind, and so on.

Not me.




Maybe we need better definitions for "challenged" and "normal" 'cause a world/nation/church dominated by people like Billy would be a lot better than...

From what I've seen, challenged is better than normal.

Anyway, there was a big dance on the eve of the last round.

About 1000 Special Olympians were dancing to the/their/His music; and you gotta see it to, uh, see it.

It's the best illustration of dancing in the Lord that I've ever seen.

Well, after the dance, I talked to the DJ.

I asked what he thought of it.

He said, "It was unbelievable. I've never seen sooooooo many people having such a good time; dancing every dance and not complaining about any of the music that I played."

Then he asked, "Do you know how that feels?"

"Uh, no," I responded.


Getting back to "Banter and Moan Ministries," I'm gonna have my administrative assistant list a time on Sundays for folks to come and banter and moan about whatever they want to banter and moan about.

I'm gonna hang a sign on the door of my study: "Banter and Moan Ministries - Open for Busyness - 9:15 - 9:30 a.m."

Considering all of the bantering and moaning in our world and country and even the church that I serve which, I gotta admit, sorry for the candor, is better than lots, only 15 minutes may not seem like enough time.


It won't take much time.

Taking a cue from Jesus, I'm gonna ask, "Do you want to be well?"

Specifically, "Do you want to be happy and whole and eternally secure?"

Some don't want to be well; and I'll tell 'em to come back when they want to be well.

But for those who want to be well, I'll say with a big smile, "Excellent! Let's forget all of the bantering and moaning stuff. Let's talk about Jesus."

Then they won't have the chance to complain.

Then they'll recognize they don't have the luxury to complain because sooooooo many others are complaining.

Then they'll no longer be a part of the ailment.

They'll be part of the antidote.


People who really know Jesus make Him known through talk, walk, and appearance.

They don't have time for bantering and moaning.

They're too busy cooperating with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in life-saving those who are drowning in such meanness, madness, and misery.

God knows how that goes.

Those who know God know that as, uh, well.



Blessings and Love!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Clergy Suicides

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Charlie was my age now when I met him only two weeks after being ordained.

It was my first parochial meeting of clergy.who lived/ministered in the same neck of the woods in Pennsylvania's Dutch Country near Lancaster.

It was also my first break from the romantic notion of pastoral ministry as equipping the saints for gospeling as everybody gets along in, through, and for Jesus.

I couldn't believe my eyes as I saw this really big manly man of a pastor break down in tears: "I can't take it anymore. I left last night's session meeting, came home after everyone was asleep, walked past the dog and up the stairs to my bedroom, threw out my arms, and cried, 'Take me now, Jesus; 'cause I'm tired of being hated for trying to get church people to act like they believe in You.'"

That happened about ten minutes after rookie me introduced myself to the veterans with bursts of excitement about finally beginning my ministry as a pastor.

While I saw what became of my home pastor after years of people talking behind his back and undermining just about every one of his Christlike efforts, meaning I kinda knew what He was getting me into, things really change moments after picking up the Rev as target more than title. It's kinda like what some women/men say happens the day after walking down the nuptial aisle.

The only way to stay in pastoral ministry is to be called into it before you start.

Yeah, I know that sounds silly; but when you consider the stats of those who've dropped out before cashing in any pension credits...

Anyway, Charlie helped me to make sense of Philippians 1:20-26.

Yeah, that kinda explains how I feel about it/Him.


___ was a good friend of mine in seminary; though he once got me into trouble in chapel by asking Paul and me to stand with him as he said something nice about Angela Davis.

I also got into trouble with him after picking him for my basketball team and then saying after our first practice, "Yo, ___, what's up with this? I thought you were a good basketball player. You stink!" He said, "See, it's the same with all you crackers! Just because I'm black and tall, you think I'm supposed to be Julius Erving or something!"

We became really close.

It happens when you're transparent, vulnerable, and willing to work through stuff; instead of pretending you're better than you are which is why so many people in the church have a hard time getting along. Too much posing purity and perfection when the truth is everybody is messed up in some way. Hello! That's why He came in Jesus to save us from our incapability of qualifying for His best and ultimate graces on our own. Duh! I'm always amazed by people who are amazed at the never-ending examples of everyone's need for Jesus to save us because we can't do it ourselves. Whoa! Some folks really, really, really need some reality therapy.

Well, he called late one night from ___ while I was in Clark, New Jersey about five years after ordination: "I can't do it anymore. I feel like snakes are in my head. I'm not black enough for blacks and not white enough for whites. People keep saying what they don't like about me. They keep asking why I became a pastor if I don't know what I'm doing. I feel like snakes are in my head. I gotta get those snakes out of my head."

He hung up after we read Psalm 62 together.

I heard he committed suicide not long after that.

I was really, really, really troubled about that until Tony explained years later, "I've had this vision of God greeting people who've committed suicide at the gates of heaven: 'I know it was too tough for you down there. It was almost too tough for me. Welcome home!'"

Psalm 62.

Sooner or later.


I've never thought about committing suicide; despite what people say about me for not wearing a helmet when I ride my mule.

Don't get me wrong.

I've been paid to be abused like most of today's clergy.

God knows people like to transfer their angers at Him and about most other things to us.

Lots of therapists give punching bags to patients.

God gave clergy to...

But, nah, I've never considered suicide; except, maybe, when it hit me that I really had no chance with Susan Sarandon and, uh, I had to admit Joel, Rick, and just about anybody else who has ever written a book will always outsell books by me by, uh, oh, sigh, geez, about a gazillion to 1.

That last one really put me over the edge. Dang, I mean, holy macaroni, if what I write is that inferior to what they write, then I must really ___.

It's good to know God defines me.

You too.

That's good to remember when the unwitting and willing accomplices of Satan belittle, beat, bruise, batter, and butcher us.

While God and the Godly elevate, encourage, and embrace, there are enough bad guys/girls in our world to make us question our worth and even right to life that...

Well, that's why too many pull the plug and...

Truth is I'm blessed by an increasingly tight relationship with Him and buoyed by the love of His in/by my family, covenant brothers, church, and...

That reminds me of something said by a secular shrink in an executive workshop that a high steeple church made me attend because I was handlin' it in the pulpit but not so well in sucking up to people who feel entitled to have guys like me suck up to 'em: "The best way to convince people not to commit suicide is to convince them that they are loved by somebody. Love is the best life preserver."

Which gets me back to God who has proved beyond any doubt in Jesus that we are loved and gets me back to Psalm 62.


Here's the point.

If Jesus is in your heart, you hang around until He decides it's time to hang out with Him in heaven.

It's Philippians 1:20-26 as a preface to the ultimate reality for everyone who is tight with Jesus: 2 Timothy 4:6-8.


He said, "I came that you may have life and..."



Here's the deal.

Whether you live or die, it's always the best with Jesus.

This life is so good with Jesus.

Life after life with Jesus is, uh, heavenly.

So decide to let Him decide.


Of course, not everybody chooses Jesus.

They usually end up as features in those depressing songs about...

That's why I must admit I just don't understand people who reject Him.

It's so suicidal.


Blessings and Love!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Called or Crazy

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Labor Day.

I'm not sure what it means anymore.

I think it's a holiday from labor even as it's celebrated; or something like that.

Sounds kinda ironic/paradoxical/hypocritical; like a country that says you don't have to wear a helmet but gotta wear a seat belt or it's O.K. to slaughter the unborn but don't mess with the carp in Lake Erie or we can't afford to help American families make ends meet because we're spending sooooooo much money dropping bombs on countries that hate us no matter who's in charge of 'em or...

Though nobody really cares, except for Brian and Chuck who keep bugging me about sabbat and my family for reasons that nobody else really cares about, I don't take days off unless I'm a coupla hundred miles from the church; and, even then, there's the cellular, cyberspace, and...

Nobody cares; and trying to explain that to anyone who can't empathize is like trying to explain why you won't find a biker's mule in front of a shrink's office.

I'm not complaining.

It is what it is and I was told how it is by my first mentor The Rev. Harold F. Mante when he whispered moments before ordination on 5/7/77, "You're called or crazy."


And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...


I'm about to complete seven years - interesting # - of what I trust will be my last gig; even as I anticipate 15 or 20 more with our family of faith (invitation) at First Presbyterian Church (name) unless I'm, uh, you know, assassinated for exposing posers or inherited cancer from my grandfather Jacob.

It's been everything that He revealed it would be when my ecclesiastical superiors asked if I was called or crazy when surrendering to the invitation to, uh, whatever it is that I do.


And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...

No one nor nothing in the past seven has/have (individually or collectively) surprised me; for it was all discerned/revealed before my first day as undershepherd on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois.

I knew who would come, leave, banter, moan, and deepen by name for their number was always...

Has it been a blessing or burden to, uh, know?


And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...


Some see and hear.


Jesus said that is what it is.

And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...

I've decided to stop pretending disappointment/depression about the bad and ugly; along with pretending surprise by the good and beautiful.

We're all growing; and He told me to stop pretending during extensive prayer in our chapel last night with three folks who are really tight with Him.

I did that - pretended disappointment/depression/surprise - because, well, uh, I don't know...

It/I was wrong; and that's all that's important to admit right now.

Truth is I'm never disappointed because I understand original sin.

I'm really never that depressed for that long because it's hard to stay that way when you're hanging out with Jesus.

We only bear good fruit when deeply rooted in Jesus (check out Galatians 5 for, uh, proof).

People who get it/Him and act like they get it/Him - the good and beautiful people of the Kingdom - don't surprise me either. I expect that from folks who are tight with Him. They show the signs of that relationship. Yeah, read the previous paragraph again.

And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...


All of that came to mind while visiting an octogenarian-plus-14 in the hospital much earlier today.

She left our church before I came, unlike those who left/came after I came, because she didn't like drums or something.

Unlike posers, she's always been honest about it.

She didn't pretend to leave because of my predecessors or anything less honest.

She just doesn't like anything but organ hymns and stuff like that.


Because she has never posed/lied about it, we've become good friends over the years.

She still ain't re-joining; but she is my friend and I'll always be here/there/anywhere for her whenever/wherever/whyever she needs me.

Anyway, she said her church is under a lot of financial pressure these days; so much so that they don't send out newsletters anymore but put 'em in the narthex for those who come to worship to pick up.

That got me to wondering why we send newsletters to folks who...

That got me to wondering why we send birthday/anniversary greetings to folks who...

That got me to wondering why we spend so much time trying to persuade folks who...

That got me to wondering why we don't invest our time/energies/emotions/resources on folks who, as Jesus said, want to be well.

And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...


I think I've wasted a lot of time over the years trying to explain that and other kinda stuff to people who can't/won't...

On the other hand, the parable of the sower comes to mind.

That kinda judgment ain't mine or yours to make.

We just keep pluggin' away 'cause we're called or crazy.

Walton wrote, "I believe we're in the last days. People are falling away from all churches even when they need them the most. 8 churches in America are closing their doors every day. People keep falling away from the church when it has the only answer. I know you work hard, pastor, to keep our church in order. We just have to keep praying. We have to pray more."


We just keep pluggin' away 'cause we're called or crazy.


And trying to explain that to anyone who can't...



Blessings and Love!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tiger Woods and Why Our Church Has $ Problems

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Not that anybody's asking, but I agree with Fred Couples.

Tiger Woods is "the best player in the world forever."

Yeah, I know Jack still has the records; but Tiger's competition has/had been much stiffer and using that kinda reasoning to say Jack is better is like saying Barry was a better bopper than Babe, Hank, Josh, Ken, Lou, Mickey, Reggie, Ted, or Willie.

I don't think so; though Tiger may go down in history as the best bopper that...


Despite missing the cut in the recent PGA Championship, firing his swing coaches and caddie not to mention wife like a man in desperate need of some kinda therapy, ranking only 28th on the list of players who automatically qualify for the team by being in the top 10, and still nursing so many mysterious emotional/intellectual/spiritual/physical injuries, smooth-swinging-now-talking Presidents Cup Captain Freddie picked Tiger with one of his two wild-cards (Hmm) for the "leadership" that he will provide for the team as "the best player in the world forever."

Because of my logs, I ain't gonna speculate on Tiger's specks; but my guess is "leadership" has a lot more to do with character than how to hit a ball in a hole.


Of course, everybody admits today's Tiger is playing pretty poorly compared to the Tiger who was the best player in the world then but not now.

Then isn't now and Tiger ain't even in the top 20 of America's best players by recent performances over the past few years.

If Freddie is gonna be consistent with his, uh, logic, I suggest he use his other "wild" pick for Arnie, Jack, Lee, or Tom - noting Watson at 60 is playing better right now than Tiger - so that the young guns who he's passing over can make some sense of Freddie's insult to them and insistence on not putting the best American team on the course in Australia in November.

When I asked my favorite PGA professional what he thought of Freddie picking Woods for the U.S. Presidents Cup team, he said, "It's about television ratings and money. Real golfers know Tiger isn't the best available for the team right now; but it's not about who's best for the team. It's about television ratings and money. Tiger is the draw. Television knows that. The tour knows that. It's all about money to them."

O.K., I get it.

Tiger being on the team is more about money than what's right and best for...

Simply, television and the tour have somehow convinced Freddie that what's right and best for the team isn't as important as the money generated by Tiger being...

Naturally, Freddie ain't gonna admit that.

Television and the tour ain't gonna admit that.

The truth has nothing to do with Tiger being on the team.

It's all about money.


That got me to thinking about why our church has money problems.

I've read lots of stuff about the culture changing and church being optional and country crumbling and economy going down the toilet quicker than poop through a goose; translating as less "discretionary" $ for the church.

Yeah, I said "discretionary" $ for the church 'cause all of that Biblical stuff about obedience in service/sharing/giving and the like doesn't mean much to most of today's pulpiteers/pewsitters who've discounted the tithe to 2% or less.

Besides, you can always get back to feeding the poor, housing the homeless, keeping the lights on, supporting ministries, and other stuff after you get the new car, MC, dining room set, vaca retreat, and...

Yeah, right.

Our church, like most these days, is strictly cash and carry; meaning folks drop some coins in the coffers when they show up if nothing better's going on and completely forget to make up for those missed Sundays.

Surely, we've got some saints who still take Jesus and the Bible very seriously - the word "remnant" comes to mind - and they keep sacrificing to make up for the infidels.

Surely, we've got some folks who are really being strapped by unemployment, under-employment, increasing taxes, and so on; and we don't expect them to fork over at the expense of taking away what should be on the forks of their families.

Buuuuuuut then you've got people who use attendance/$ as a weapon; as in blackmail or as in I'm staying away and keeping my marbles avec moi if you don't do it my way.

In the midst of major expansion/renovation and other wineskin-expanding opportunities, we've had people drop out before they were asked to give because they didn't want to give and never had to give because we've made ends meet via an endowment for over three decades. Dead people have been paying our bills for years. We've had people leave because they long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more and they really don't care about reaching the next generations for Jesus if it means adjusting to, uh, attract 'em. "To hell with 'em," they essentially say by their my-way-or-the-highway-attendance-$ blackmailing ways. And, yeah, we've even had some people leave because they're waiting for the next pastor search committee to pick the next pastor who won't meet the...

Well, you know what I mean; and if you don't, you're like Captain Kangaroo, Doris Day, Betty Boop, Tiny Tim and those folks who are deaf, dumb, and blind to the birthpangs so obviously increasing in frequency and intensity.

In short, these are tough times; making for even more $ problems in our church than is, uh, natural.

Uh, naturally, the miscreants won't admit it.

Uh, naturally, the blackmailers will blame something/somebody else for their selfish disobedience - excuses to hide the darkness surrounding their hearts that doesn't fool anybody.

The truth is they've never been on the team.

They've always been free agents waiting for a better deal; as in consuming/getting and exercising some sense of entitlement so absolutely antithetical to Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.

It's always been about the $.


I'll never forget some guy talking about the real problem behind the problem of Tiger Woods and why our church has $ problems in Princeton's Miller Chapel back in the early 70s.

An elder approach his pastor, "We have $ problems in our church."

Pastor: "As you know, I must concentrate on the spiritual problems in our church; so please bring this up at the next session meeting."

Elder: "It's really serious. Our endowment is half of what it was last year and we're chipping away at it every day and you know we've lived on it for years."

Pastor: "Wow! That's serious. But as you know, I must concentrate on the spiritual problems in our church; so maybe you need to call for a special meeting of our Finance Committee to address this financial problem before it gets any worse."

Elder: "I don't think you're hearing me. It's so bad that we're gonna have to lay off staff, cut back on ministries, and you're not gonna get a raise!"

Pastor: "Why didn't you tell me that it's that serious? But as you know, I must concentrate on spiritual problems in our church; so we better call a special session meeting to address this financial problem right now."

The elder stands up at the start of the special session meeting, "Pastor, we have a spiritual problem in our church."


Our church has $ problems because it has had a spiritual problem for decades.

Naturally, few will admit it.

Spiritually, it's the truth.

$ problems in our church betray a lack of intimacy with Jesus; for people who are tight with Jesus give, give, give, give, give, give, give, and...

Some folks walk/run/hide away from the truth.

BTW, the truth is Jesus.



Blessings and Love!