Friday, March 30, 2012
Despite the best efforts of VMTC to exorcise demons from some memories, I've still got a few bad ones.
I'll never forget Grandma Thelma saying this after I hid a pack of her smokes in a vase, uh, filled with water in 8th grade, "You'll never amount to anything in your life."
I really loved her; but that kinda bothered me when I hurt my arm and pitching for the Yankees was out.
Moretheless, I've spent a lot of my life living down to her expectations.
Then there was the bishop who said, "You may not regret it now; but someday..."
While I've tried to confess and repent and reconcile in a way that would cause Luther's confessor to think he was a piker over the past 13 years for sins in the preceding..., the psalmist was on to something in 120:6-7.
And as someone who, I confess, still loves the PCUSA and America in a nostalgic kinda way and has rededicated emotions/energies/intercessions to their revival/renewal/regeneration/rebirth - I'm as double-minded as anyone on what's really needed despite knowing Who's needed - I'm really, really, really haunted by Billy's wife's conclusion of years ago, "If God doesn't bring judgment on America soon, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."
Help us, Jesus!
KDers know I'm not voting for the incumbent or insurgent in November because I can't bring myself to vote for the lesser of two evils (go to the right column and click on "Voting for the Lesser of...").
I can't vote for a Joey Smith fan who can't relate to...
I can't vote for a secularist who can't relate to...
About the former, I can't vote for someone on the hunch that he may be a Mormon about as much as too many pewsitters/pulpiteers in mainline denominations are Christians as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.
About the latter, I can't vote for someone on the hunch that he means well and doesn't know what he's doing.
I wouldn't have been much help to the allies in WW2 'cause I would have fought against Hitler and Stalin; knowing the lesser of two evils is/remains evil.
Yeah, Billy's wife's conclusion keeps ringing in my...
And did you catch the incumbent's, uh, confession/commitment to outgoing Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he was looking forward to after the November election so he'd have more flexibility in negotiating our missile defense capabilities?
To the text.
BBPBHO: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it's important for him...[viz., Putin the KGB guy]...to give me space."
Dmitri: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you..."
BBPBHO: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility."
Dmitri: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir...[Putin]."
Well, I guess we're in Lent when we recall other betrayals.
Not, uh, really.
You know what I mean; and if you don't, you've come under his spell just like...
Help us, Jesus!
Stan Bell just went home to Jesus.
I got the call last night.
He was related to Billy's wife's family.
We often quoted together what I quoted from her above.
He loved Jesus; and told me that/He wouldn't allow him to vote for the incumbent or insurgent.
Stan was a very simple man who loved Jesus and prayed/tried to love like Him to prove His love for Him.
Because he wasn't your typical "Young Life" or "Willow Creek" or "Heartland" kinda youth director if you know what I mean and you know what I mean if you knew him, I had to convince three search committees to let him work avec moi.
None of 'em regretted it; because his unyieldingly consistently passionate practice as a youth professional was to esteem Jesus and the eternal as well as existential significance of knowing Him as personal Lord and Savior.
Some of his seminary classmates and some of my peers viewed him as Grandma Thelma viewed me; but he shocked 'em all by leading more young and old people to Jesus than most mainline pulpiteers and pewsitters that I've ever known.
Except for my home pastor The Rev. Harold F. Mante, Stan was without peer when it came to never fudging on Christocentric faith rooted in Biblical revelation and forgiving everyone who had ever hurt him because he just believed that's a big part of authentic Christianity.
My only regret is not insisting some of my peers spend time with him.
He could have cured their as he tried to cure my posing Christianity.
He could have been His best antidote for the Sodom and Gomorrah in...
Stan and I shared the same love for Jesus.
He practiced it/Him better than me.
We also shared a favorite song.
Thank you, Jesus, for helping Stan so he can now intercede for us in a heavenly way.
Blessings and Love!
Monday, March 26, 2012
Originating from the Teutonic forests of Germany, my life is rather predictable aka anal.
90% of the time, I get up sometime between 4:00 - 4:30 a.m.
Rarely later and only later if Jack helped ease the aches and pains of...during the late news before...
Again, see the last word of the first sentence.
Got it from Helen Kopp (DNA) - my grandmother who started her days at 3:30 a.m.
Anyway, I hook up Kopper and he takes me for a mile walk.
Then I do some push-ups, some sit-ups, and some free weights; not enough to be buff but enough not to be...
Then I plug in my contacts and shave (not much), sit on the toilet and read the Bible (depends if you know what I mean in both cases), shower (as much as possible), and head off to...
75% of the time, immediately after arriving at church, I get with Him for...
Church crises don't care about quiet time
I recall a cartoon with a secretary opening the pastor's study door, observing him in prayer, and then signaling to someone, "No, it's O.K. He can see you right now. He's not doing anything important."
Then it's on to...
Same old same...
Euphemistically, the word "fulfilling" comes to mind.
Buuuuuuut then there are those times when He breaks through the routine for fresh revelation.
The time spent with Him is inextricably related to the frequency and intensity of those apocalyptic moments.
If you know anything about the desert fathers, you know what I mean.
Just the other day, I had another one of those times.
I was sitting on the toilet and doing my/His thing when I saw an ant crossing right in front of my feet.
My first instinct was to end its journey.
Buuuuuuut just as I was about to crush the life out of it, I thought, "Why should I end this bug's life? What has it done to me? What right do I have to...? What does it mean to take away the life of...?"
It was a Francis moment: "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."
That boy in Florida?
I wasn't even constipated.
If you're like too many people, you be the judge.
Yeah, I read about us as, you know, imago Dei and all of that.
But maybe some of us as imago Dei should give a tad more attention to Dei gratia.
Dominion doesn't mean domination if you know what I mean.
Only an inflated sense of self could cause one to think she/he has the right to take life from...
I thought about that while on the toilet.
I realized anyone who thinks about taking life from something/someone else is sooooooo full of...
Blessings and Love!
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The race to the White House is down to two, uh, horses.
The incumbent is a secularist whose values are imperceptible apart from the gospel according to Gallup.
The insurgent's role model is Joey Smith.
Think about it.
Increasingly, Christians are hoping the incumbent doesn't know what he's doing.
Increasingly, Christians are hoping the insurgent is a Mormon about as much as most pulpiteers/pewsitters in mainline denominations are Christians after the pattern of Jesus and prescriptions of Holy Scripture.
Think about it.
A friend confessed, "Well, I guess I'll just have to vote for the lesser of two evils in November."
As the last words, uh, fell from her lips, it/He hit me.
Parenthetically, if you're comfortable, you be the judge if what follows was inspired/indigested.
Think about it.
Don't be like most mindless Democrats and Republicans who would vote for Satan itself if it were their party's nominee.
Anyway, I thought via inspiration/indigestion, "If I vote for the lesser of two evils, that means I'm still gonna be voting for someone who is, gulp,..."
WW2 came to mind.
The cigar-inhaling PM of our greatest ally - since, you know, the late 18th and early 19th centuries - convinced us to ally ourselves with the devil to beat Hitler.
He meant Stalin.
Our enemy Hitler was evil and slaughtered millions.
Our ally Stalin was evil and slaughtered millions.
In other words, the lesser of two evils was/remains evil.
Think about it.
Do we really have to vote for either of 'em?
Before committing ourselves to the lesser of two evils, let's think about what that means.
I wonder how He feels about us saying, "I'm gonna vote for the lesser of two evils."
Maybe He'd say, "How about voting for the one who is trying to honor Me the most? I'll take care of the rest."
I don't know.
I'm not suggesting anyone in particular.
I've written over and over and over again that I don't like anybody who's running.
But I think there's gotta be someone left in America who...
Like part of the, uh, remnant.
Where's that book by Rabbi Cahn?
Tim wrote this morning: "I heard last night the Cubs went all out to get Albert. They offered more than anyone else and a promise that he'd never have to play in October."
Theo Epstein comes to mind.
He's the guy who's supposed to do for the Cubs what he did for the Red Sox.
Think about it.
Really, the curse of Babe Ruth seems much tougher than a billy goat.
Well, Epstein was asked how he expects to win after a century of losing.
Answer: "There's a universal recognition here that we need to try a different way. The 103 years...I basically ignore it."
Think about it.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Are you looking for a copy of
I Just Wanna Ride (FTW)
and you're not keen on
Barnes and Noble
just calling moi?
You can now pick up your copy
and lots for your friends
B-Rad's Cycle Shop
5306 Forest Hills Center
Loves Park, Illinois
Starting March 23, 2012
Forward this on, brethren/sistern!
Monday, March 19, 2012
Disasters, like funerals, come without consulting our calendars or comfort zones.
Preparation precedes response.
If we're not prepared before disasters come, we won't be, uh, prepared to respond immediately.
People who are suffering from disasters need help immediately.
Disasters don't respect our penchant for procrastination; and people suffer more as we meet, study, consult, and take sooooooo much time to verbalize concern about their suffering.
Talk is cheap in the immediate aftermath of disasters.
That's probably why an old missionary once said, "A life lived for Jesus speaks louder than any verbal testimony."
I know some folks have problems with James' insistence on deeds proving creeds; but reading those red letters in the Bible more than reading about 'em compels righteousness confirmed by works.
The calls of Abraham and those first century disciples of Jesus come to mind.
"The Lord said to Abraham, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you'...So Abraham left as the Lord told him."
"'Come, follow Me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'...And immediately they left their nets and followed Him."
God called; and they left immediately.
No courses, conferences, or workshops.
And His story aka history shows they were blessed for blessing Him by blessing His.
Tony told me about taking his son Bart to Haiti on a mission trip and warned, "If any of the children ask you for money, don't give any to them; or they'll just keep asking you for more and more and more and..."
With a puzzled look on his face, Bart said more than asked, "So?"
Tony heard a distant echo increasing in volume, "As you do it for them, you do it for..."
Tony also told me that churches involved in mission have fewer relational problems.
They're so busy being blessed for blessing Him by blessing His that they don't have time for religion's incidentals, irregulars, irascibles, and irreconcilables.
Our Wednesday evening "Deeper Discipleship" folks have been reading/studying/digesting Francis Chan's Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of The Holy Spirit.
He has helped us understand why it's now or never for some churches: "I think a lot of us need to forget about...[figuring out]...God's will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today."
Continuing, "It is easy to use the phrase...['Before I get involved, I've got to figure out']...'God's will for my life' as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It's safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day."
Concluding, "My hope is that instead of searching for 'God's will for my life,' each of us would learn to seek hard after 'the Spirit's leading in my life today.'"
Take a look at Matthew 6:25-34.
Ever hear of big talkers?
Lots of 'em in pulpits like me and in pews like...
Talk without walk is the real disaster.
The eternal is confirmed by the existential now or...
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
I've never been happier in life and ministry than I am right now.
Please don't tell the people on 7734 Bel-Mar Drive or the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois because I don't want to lose my prophetic edge as a husband/father/undershepherd.
While every day isn't a hot fudge sundae, shedding anthropomorphic temptations, "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me..."
Hanging out more and more and more with Him has more benefits than...
While I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus, I am scratching the surface and...
"I wish for you, my friend, this happiness that..."
What a privilege for us who know Him to make Him known to spread gospel.
Of course, there are lots of miserable people in the world and, uh, gulp, church.
I'm not talking about our family of faith at First Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, Illinois.
While we've got our challenges/sadnesses/disappointments/whatevers like most other churches, most of the miserable people who wanted everybody else to be as miserable as them have left and new miserable people who come are converted/healed or leave and we're becoming increasingly known as a pretty heaven happy beacon for Jesus and safe haven for everybody/anybody.
Getting back to miserable people who are always trying to get us back to life without Him/His, I think of the sad sack who said, "I hate that guy! He's always so positive and hopeful and happy. He's always slapping me on the back and saying how great life is with Jesus. But I'll fix him. I'm going to tie a stick of dynamite to my back; so the next time he slaps me on the back, BOOM! His hand will be blown off."
There was a guy in "his" church about 30 years ago who had served in the army of Nazi Germany who came to me after a sermon in which I used Nazis as an indescribably horrid example of evil in our world and Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a pret' near perfect illustration of combating it and said, "I think we can stop talking about Nazis now. That's been over for a long time and we need to forget about that and move on."
Paraphrasing a line, I said people who fail to repent from history's glaringly awful moments often repeat them.
It's like sins.
Anyway, all of that came to mind while walking Kopper the other night.
I'd just come home from a long meeting.
Always suffering from separation anxieties, Kopper greeted me with tail-wagging-body-moving contortions of affection.
Parenthetically, dog shrinks will often say dogs like people best who feed, walk, and play with them.
That's me in our house.
In other words, dogs can still be willful/selfish and ticked off like the higher species when not getting their way.
That's especially obvious with Kopper when he hunts down something, has it in his mouth, and I try to take it away from him.
He will growl, bark, and even bite the hand that feeds him in a battle of wills/ways.
I can growl, bark, and even bite back; but that always makes him angrier and more dangerous.
It brings out the animal in him.
But if I'm patient and speak to him in calm, strong, endearing, and enduring tones, he usually comes back around to whatever kinda true affection is in him pour moi.
I think that's a metaphor for all relationships.
Below and above.
Blessings and Love!
I Just Wanna Ride (FTW)
Inaugural Book Signing
2050 S. Eastwood Drive
March 17, 2012
Part of Woodstock HD's 12th Annual Open House
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
In addition to bringing friends to buy lots of books,
this is a major party with lots of vendors, live music,
food, and big, big, big savings on bikes and HD stuff!
Just don't buy the 2007...
Let me introduce you to my friends at Woodstock HD!
Watch for more signings throughout 2012!
This signing is about loyalty.
For live interviews (radio/TV), go
Monday, March 12, 2012
Lying, one of the big ten, breaks all of 'em if you know what I mean.
Think about it.
Anyway, my buddy Paul told a group of Cub Scouts back on 2/3/80 in Woodstown, New Jersey: "That means lying is out. Little lies, half-truths, and pretend stories are out. They will not make you happy, because God does not like them. No matter how much it hurts, God likes the truth best."
Moody to a mom who asked how to stop her children from fibbing: "Start calling them lies."
Today not much different from yesterday, we lie about everything from why gas prices have gone up nearly 90% in the last three years to the origins/intentions of Islam to why we are sooooooo addicted to shows like Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and...
Lying always breaks trust when exposed; and lying to ourselves retards emotional, intellectual, and spiritual improvement because it insults the truly, truly, truly thrice holiness of God which cannot, uh, co-exist with lies.
Simply, increasing intimacy with Him produces increasing integrity in us; or as C.S. Lewis said, "Prayer doesn't change God; it changes me."
My wife does not lie. She is the most honest person that I've ever met; which is why some people like me are afraid to talk to her about themselves/myself. While they're/I'm addicted to lying because it makes them/me feel better about, uh, lying, she knows only truth liberates in a Biblical kinda way. Of course, some people like me prefer to remain sick. Truly.
Be that as she is, I lie.
Someone says my last sermon sucked; and I say, "Thank you for sharing that."
People ask how I'm doing; and I say, "Fine." How can I admit how I'm really doing when most of my days are dominated by "ministering" to people who are busy licking their wounds or doing their worst to inflict wounds on others?
I say I prefer a lean pony and don't really like fairings for missionary journeys; but I'm only rationalizing the lack of Ks to...
I pretend, "She/he meant well." But, deep down, having discerned demonic oppressions/possessions, I know I'm just pacifying the fantasies and postponing the inevitabilities about...
Spending so much time on the lusts of others, I lie about my own; though I know OC's counsel is right: "Yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust...'I must have it at once'...and you are a bondslave to that thing. There is no release in human power...Yielding to Jesus will break every form of slavery in any human life."
I know that.
But, like Paul (see Romans 7:7ff.), I know Stanley is right: "We fluctuate between two mind-sets - that of the Spirit leading toward God and that of the flesh leading away from Him."
Atwood was right: "No matter how good we become, we're never good enough not to need Jesus to save us from our lusts tearing us away from Him."
I don't want to lie; but I do because it makes me feel sooooooo much better than...
This is about the true origin/nature of schism.
I had a dream on Saturday.
I dreamed I was charged with a horrible crime.
Though I knew I was innocent of that particular crime, the jury said I was guilty and had to be punished.
The judge asked if I had any last words before sentencing.
I said, "I did not do it."
The judge said, "I know; but you have committed many other crimes for which you were not charged or convicted. How can I show mercy to you if you insist on your innocence?"
Just before execution, He appeared.
Yeah, I know this sounds scripted and hardly novel; but read on.
While freeing me, He said, "Stop lying."
I asked sooooooo stupidly and irreverently, "Why?"
He said, "Liars have another father not Me."
Then I began confessing my life's lies to Him.
He stopped me and said, "I know; and as long as you know, we can move on."
I'm still trying to figure out what all of that means for...
But I have figured out lying really, really, really separates me from Him, His, and...me.
I guess only a dream could capture/focus my attention on that.
A friend wrote to me about a church that is fighting with its higher judicatory to leave its denomination for another denomination.
I wrote, "This is why those who need Jesus outside of His Church laugh at the church and are repulsed from Jesus by those who claim to be so close to Him."
It reminded me of a friend who has been abandoned by a friend because he wouldn't join him to leave one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination.
Then I prayed and prayed and prayed and found no comfort or consolation or any of OC's strong calm sanity for him or me until I was led to Proverbs 18:1.
I read it in Hebrew; taking a long time because my Hebrew sucks as much as some of my sermons.
I read it in over a dozen different translations/paraphrases.
A conclusion was reached.
It's time to stop talking about schism.
It's time to start talking about lies.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
My father-in-law has been around for nearly 90 years.
He's always been positive about America's future; until recently when he lamented, "If we're stupid enough to elect ___ as President, then we deserve to go to hell."
Then he asked who'll get my vote.
I said, "Well, Ralph, we haven't even finished winter yet; so I'm not real psyched about passing spring, summer, and most of fall just to vote for anybody among this sorry list of candidates."
"Booooooob," he persisted, "I asked who you're voting for."
"I don't know," I continued, "I just can't believe the greatest empire in world history can't come up with better candidates than a secularist, Joe Smith fan, serial liar, counter-reformer, and nutball."
"But Booooooob," he persisted in a way that proves where my wife got it, "I asked who you're voting for."
Non-answer: "I'd like to vote for the Latino Senator in Florida or Indiana's Governor or Evan's son who quit the Senate because it's gotten so bad or..."
"Are you telling me," he almost scolded, "that you're not gonna vote?"
"No, I'm gonna vote," I replied, "I just don't wanna vote for anybody who's running right now. I keep hoping the Democrats and Republicans will stop thinking party over country and jettison 'em all for someone with some of the values that made America so great. Maybe now is a good time for a third party. I don't know. I just don't trust the incumbent or any of the insurgents. It almost makes me long for the days of..."
Then we talked about important stuff; like who'll sign Peyton.
It's that bad.
BTW, that's why I haven't written that much about Election 2012.
I can't imagine another four with the incumbent or a first four with any of those insurgents.
Of course, no matter how badly the incumbent has, uh, performed, I haven't backed off my prediction of his re-election by a bigger margin than last time; which is a staggering commentary on how really, really, really awful the fab four are on the other side.
Every demographic in the last election held true to form; except women who voted overwhelmingly for BBPBHO.
The latest polls show him garnering even more of that gender this time around.
Now I'm probably gonna get into trouble for suggesting this - What a shock! - but I think it's part of America's femininization.
America doesn't like "manly" men anymore.
I'm not talking about MCPs but rather decisive, principled, wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove, tough-minded and tender-hearted, and honest-to-God men.
We're into sensitive rappers who don't really believe in anything too much; especially if it offends people who don't care about offending the values at the core of America's birth and growth.
Nah, we like the decline.
We like soft and cuddly "leaders" who say what our itching ears want to hear - sounds familiar - and prove Orwell was off by about three decades.
We like "leaders" who sound like wimps in public but act like wolves when we're not looking.
As long as they say what we want to hear, we'll let 'em get away with hell behind closed doors.
Unfortunately, my father-in-law was onto something.
It seems like we've been that or more stupid since 9/11/01.
God help us.
He will if we...
My favorite street preacher who's really into eschatological stuff insisted I read Jonathan Cahn's The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America's Future.
Normally, I'm satisfied with Mark 13, Matthew 24, and related passages when it comes to that; and I'm not really afraid of the eschaton because I figure it's gonna happen sooner or later and He'll take care of us in a John 3:16-21 kinda way anyway.
I've just never gotten into any of that late-great-planet-earth hysteria.
My soul is still in Him.
Anyway, I couldn't put down the book once I started reading; and if I weren't pimping another book right now...
Cahn is a Messianic Rabbi in Wayne, New Jersey who sees 9/11/01 as a harbinger or initial warning of things getting a lot worse for America if it doesn't get its act together with God.
Essentially, he sees 9/11 as God using today's religious sickos to capture our attention like He used the Assyrians and other bad guys to capture Israel's attention over 2K years ago.
He juxtaposes all of this to Isaiah 9:10-11 with some startling parallels of what's happening right now in America and what will happen if we don't, uh, get our act together with God in a 2 Chronicles 7:14 kinda way.
Again, I'm not into any of those end time calculations for two reasons: (1) Jesus said only God knows when and I figure Jesus knows that because He is una substantia et tres personae and I've got OC's strong calm sanity through increasing intimacy with Him no matter what/who/where/when/why; and (2) I don't trust anyone who predicts something in the future while taking Visa for their materials if you catch my drift.
But this book is really compelling/convincing in weaving events since 9/11/01 with an eye to what's coming in the context of Isaiah 9:10-11.
The implications for Election 2012 cause me to pause, ponder, and pray; and then participate in the...
Check it out.
While I can't stand who's running for President, I am engaged in prayer for His best for the office.
I don't understand people who are not engaged. They remind me of the player confronted by his coach: "Son, I don't understand it with you. Is it ignorance or apathy?" The player answers, "Coach, I don't know and I don't care."
Considering the stakes, it seems better to be informed and involved.
That was one of the lessons of the Reformation.
It's a lesson worth recalling for our country as well as church with slight word changes: ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei.
In short, 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Blessings and Love!