Thursday, July 26, 2012
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame
999 Main Street
Sturgis, South Dakota
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
"Give a Pint to Save a Life!"
Book Purchases/Signings Optional!
Rock River Valley Blood Center
2050 S. Eastwood
Ida Public Library
320 North State Street
Catch the NPR Interview by Clicking Here
(Event, Church, Club, Shop)
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I've often been struck by how clergy, more sophisticated theologians, and institutionally loyal ecclesiastical bureaucrats make Christianity sooooooo complex/confusing.
You know their line when talking about issues of faith and morality: "It's more complicated than that."
They say that after some, uh, simpleton says something like this: "I believe our world and nation and denomination and all of the rest would be much better off if people just, you know, literally obeyed things like the Ten Commandments, Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 25, and..."
"Naaaaaaah," they preen while sporting those stripes of credibility sown onto their Genevans, "it's more complicated than that."
But since I've been born anothen, uh, anothen, I've kinda been struggling with that mindset as much as conventional grammar.
I've been thinking there must be a really, really, really new translation of the Bible that they're reading: "So man created God in his own image. In the image of man, man created God."
Sorry about the gender stuff in the previous sentence; besides, most of my favorite feminists don't mind masculine imagery when it makes men look like...
Anyway, I've been thinking there must be a really, really, really new translation of the Bible that they're reading: "When Jesus finished His teaching, the crowds were totally confused by all He had said. The clergy, theologians, and other ecclesiastical bureaucrats reassured them, 'Ah, don't worry about what Jesus said. It's more complicated than that. We'll show you how to...'"
I've been thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I watch Obama and Romney lie about each other.
I've been thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I wonder why people can't/won't address the simple choice of this coming November: free enterprise or statism.
I've been thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I'm part of a mainline denomination mirroring all of the others as well as the sideliners despite their self-righteous protests to the contrary that splits votes right down the middle or somewhere thereabouts when balloting on issues of faith and morality as if God is as double-minded as they/we are about issues of faith and morality.
I've been thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I wonder why those "religious" denominationalists whose connection to Jesus and Holy Scripture is more and more and more coincidental can't/won't address the simple choice whenever balloting on issues of faith and morality: you/we is or you/we ain't gonna abide by Holy Scripture as the absolutely authoritative revelation of God's will on issues of faith and morality.
I've been thinking more and more and more about the aforementioned as I think about clergy like me who are reading Matthew 23 and wondering what the anything but heaven we've been doing for...
I may be wrong buuuuuuut I've been thinking people like me like to make simple Christianity as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture sooooooo complex and confusing because we either don't believe it/Him for ourselves, never truly understood Christianity as being about Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture, or just changed our minds since getting into the gig and lack the integrity to admit it and go sell insurance, work at Starbucks, or something.
Or maybe it's just that new translation of the Bible that's really, really, really catching on with clergy, theologians, and ecclesiastical bureaucrats like me.
Or maybe it's just because being simply Christian is too much to ask for those who've, uh, abandoned it for something/someone else even while continuing to pick up a paycheck from...
I've decided to get rid of as many of the religious trappings about Jesus as I can in favor of a relationship with Jesus enabled by paying closer attention to Him as revealed in Holy Scripture and enlightened in prayer by the Holy Spirit Who never contradicts what He's revealed in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.
Or something like that.
I feel like I'm just scratching the surface; but I'm scratchin' and sniffin' and searchin' through Holy Scripture for something a lot more than the two feet planted firmly in the air deliberations of my government, denomination, and...
I may be wrong; but I gotta tell ya that I'm feelin' a lot better doing that than paying attention to those clergy, theologians, and ecclesiastical bureaucrats like me who have an increasing penchant for paralleling what they/we think to what He's revealed in Jesus as attested in Holy Scripture.
It just occurred to me that's why He came up with the first few of the big ten.
Of course, I don't expect people like me who sometimes act like they know more than Him to...
Blessings and Love!
Monday, July 16, 2012
Scratching the Surface of Genesis
My grandfather Jacob often warned, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
That was his way of saying it's easy to miss the big picture if you're caught up in the details; or as one of the few seminary Bible professors who made any simple sense said to me, "You can't build faith on broken pickle jars!"
For example, looking at the start of everything, does it really matter what happened on which day of creation? Does it really matter if God used evolution to move us from slimy tadpoles to Calvin, uh, Kleins or just winked us into being? Does it really alter the course of anyone's destiny not to mention just keep keepin' on if we've memorized who begat whom? What difference does it make to know if the chicken or egg came first?
While Genesis is about firsts for everyone and everything - universe, world, nations, time, gender, family, sin, suffering, and all of the below by way of all of the above - the most important first is God.
God was/is/remains first. No one nor no thing was ever before God. He was before everyone and everything.
Simply, God is Source, Starter, and Sovereign.
Now go back to the first paragraph before reaching for some Advil.
Really, thinking too hard about how or why or whatever is a rabbit trail with no end.
Simply, again, God is Source, Starter, and Sovereign.
So the first big message of Genesis is God.
Don't even try to wrap your head around it/Him.
It's impossible for the made to understand the Maker.
The distance between Source (God) and product (us) is so far beyond our calculations that it's silly to even try.
That's why Luther often said, "Let God be God."
Stop trying to figure out what's/Who's beyond us in every emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical way; unless, as Dr. Metzger often warned the academically constipated, you're into useless discussion.
The message of Genesis isn't how or why or whatever.
The message is God.
God as Source, Starter, and Sovereign - for reasons that we'll never understand no matter how hard we try - turned nothing into everything and everyone.
Here's the really, really, really good news about it/Him.
He put us on the top of the charts; saying to Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - which we don't really get either apart from some hints by reading the rest of the book - "Let us make people in our image and let them rule over everything else."
Simply, God made us for Himself.
So the big message of the big message in Genesis is God with an affection for us that is more acknowledged than understood.
Think about it/Him.
It means He really, really, really likes/loves/cares about us.
While there are stories in Genesis and from our lives illustrating how people mess up what He designed and made as good by not paying attention to Him, no one nor no thing change His mind about us.
While too many people who don't get it/Him - particularly the obvious connection that we're all part of the same family because we've got one Source, Starter, and Sovereign - and don't like/love/care about us, He always has from Genesis.
Please take some time to read the book itself.
There are lots of interesting stories about how we've always messed up relationships between Him and His.
Yet, as Grandpa Kopp always warned, "Don't miss the forest for the trees!"
No matter what anyone tries to do, God's still inviting and welcoming us back home to Him.
Later on in the book, somebody who finally got it/Him put it/Him this way, "I am convinced nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Jesus sealed the deal that began at the beginning when God made us for Himself as Source, Starter, and Sovereign.
It's/He's the end of His story that has always included us from Genesis.
Blessings and Love!
Friday, July 13, 2012
While Scratching the Surface of Genesis was scheduled for release today, we're taking another detour/deepening dictated by yesterday's revelations from unHappy Valley in Pennsylvania.
It seems the iconic coach knew about the dirty details for over a decade and, uh, did nothing; or as Sarge Shultz pretended, "I know nothing. I hear nothing. I see nothing."
Sadly, evidence has been, uh, disclosed to confirm what many have suspected.
Children's bodies and souls were raped for years and years and years despite the "saintly" coach, AD, VP, and P knowing about it because the reputation of the "saintly" coach, football program, and university were deemed more important than children's bodies and souls being raped.
What's that chant?
I mean wrong.
I don't need to catalogue the sins in an anti-Pauline kinda way.
You know the sick story.
Yet I've been thinking about a thread through it all that brought Nixon back to mind in what seems to me to be a striking parallel that repeats itself over and over and over again like it just did in unHappy Valley.
Nixon could have preserved a better place in history for himself if he wouldn't have conspired to cover-up the sins of those burglars being managed by underlings.
Paterno could have preserved a better place in history for himself if he wouldn't have conspired to cover-up Jerry's sins.
And before anyone suggests any kinda nobility on Paterno's part for not, uh, disclosing the darkly despicable behavior of one of his coaches/friends, keep in mind that we're not talking about an indiscretion or political dirty trick or momentary lack of judgment. We're talking about a conspiracy to cover-up the rape of children's bodies and souls in deference to the fans/boosters who idolized-some-still-idolize-him-anyway the coach and his football program and his university!
And anyone who tries to rationalize away any of it - even Jay who can be almost excused as, uh, a child of... - is sick, sick, sick.
Now read John 3:19-21.
Now read it again slowly.
Now think back to Nixon, think now to Paterno, and think about...
True, as the misguided Marine said, some people can't handle the truth.
So they hide it.
They don't talk about it.
They don't do anything about it.
Ergo, they are accomplices with it.
I've been accused of being too open with the officers and members of His-not-my church about, uh, uh, uh,...everything.
I've been accused of answering direct questions with direct answers.
I've been accused of indiscretion by forwarding e-mails that people have written about other people that are...
I've been accused of talking about things that people don't want to talk about like apostasy, meanness, hypocrisy, and other sneaky, irascible, irregular, and irreconcilable behaviors in me as well as others.
I've been accused of taking the Lion of Judah thing too seriously; and moving from the strong calm sanity of watching the pride/family to the ferocious, unrelenting, and pursuing foe of anyone like me who poses Christianity while giving comfort to the enemy in an Ephesians 6:10ff. kinda way.
I've been accused of telling too many insiders/outsiders what's really going on in the franchise, government, His-not-my church, and all of the below.
I've been told I write too much, say too much, get involved in too much, and...
I am guilty.
I praise God for this admission.
I praise God that I don't have a secret password on my computer; so I'm not tempted to...
I praise God that I don't keep secrets; and, remember, secrets and personal/pastoral confidentialities are different things despite some folks pretending otherwise. Secrets, more often than not, are not redemptive. Usually, they hide pejorative behaviors. Personal/pastoral confidentialities are part of a redemptive discipline.
I praise God that I admit I've inhaled and looked...
I praise God that I know I have sinned, sin, and will...
Now read 1 John 1.
I have mourned for the Nixons for a long time because Richard did not understand the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for the Paternos and Nittany Lions because JoePa along with the AD, VP, and P did not understand the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for churches and governments and businesses and clubs and...who do not pray and try to live by the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
I mourn for my parents, sister, wife, children, friends, and anyone who has ever suffered because I have not understood the wisdom of Jesus in John 3:19-21.
And that mourning makes me want to obey His wisdom in John 3:19-21.
Simply, if we want to keep keepin' those secrets and walk in darkness because we don't want anyone to turn the light on our...
Well, I hope we know what He meant in John 3:19-21.
If not, we've learned nothing from the Nixons and Paternos and me and...
BTW, my password is 1952.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
As noted in the last edition, Scratching the Surface will dominate KDs for the next six months or so; but there will be an occasional detour as inspired/indigested.
This is one of 'em.
Watch for Scratching the Surface of Genesis in the next edition!
Anyway, I just got back from presiding at a nuptial in a sanctuary of God's creative beauty - St. Augustine Beach, Florida.
Parenthetically, I am often reminded how the Bible often reminds us that our Lord's presence is not restricted to space or time; and whenever/wherever His people gather in His name for worship, holy communion occurs.
Of course, we know people are into their little Babels, icons, idols, and...religion about Him even more than relationship with Him.
Go back to the preface of Scratching the Surface (right column).
Really, how we ever came up with so much of our religious stuff about Him that blurs/distracts from a relationship with Him is beyond me; and as you've read in the preface, that's why I feel like I'm just Scratching the Surface. Increasingly, I'm leaving religion about Jesus for a relationship with Him as I try to be an authentic undershepherd leading people away, uh, from religion about Him to a relationship with Him.
Or something like that.
Be that as it is, the wedding was wonderfully authentic and His presence graced the announcement of what He has done and will do for Alissa and Brandon.
While immersed in praise to God for His providence in the marriage of Alissa and Brandon, I had three other inspirations/indigestions.
You can decide if they were detours or deepenings.
First, I went to Osteen's.
Like bikers will tell you about the ride to freedom, there's no way for me to explain if you don't know.
Kinda like a relationship with Jesus over religion about Him.
Well, recalling how I often went there with a "covenant" group, I lamented briefly about the broken "covenant" related to Romans 12:3,10 and James 4 kinda stuff; and I grew inflamed over hypocrites in Christian clothing who say how much they love Jesus while they separate and segregate themselves from other hypocrites in Christian clothing who say how much they...
People who say they love Jesus by distancing and divorcing themselves from other people who say they love Jesus have no credibility to stand up in their churches on Sunday mornings to pontificate like posers on how people can get together through Jesus when they don't.
Lots of 'em wear those silly vestments to cover up who they really...
Didn't Jesus say something about that/them?
It's like my wife says when she wants to capture my attention, "Why don't you practice what you...?"
Second, I called the franchise church in the old city about Sunday worship and got a recording about their services at 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.
We arrived at 7:45 a.m. to discover the recording hadn't been changed to account for only one summer service at 10:00 am.
So we went down the street to another franchise church and worshipped.
The preacher, the senior's associate, uh, preached on God's creating everyone in His image a la Genesis 1.
What really, really, really got to me in a Scratching the Surface kinda way was his simple specificity: "God doesn't see tall or short or black or white or brown or red or yellow or skinny or overweight or Democrat or Republican or Methodist or...All He sees is relatives in His family...Everyone loved as much as and no more than..."
I needed that confirmation/challenge/castigation after going to Osteen's and reading reports of my denomination's latest meeting and watching Obama/Romney hate/meanspirited ads and...
Third, as I left the other franchise church and felt as close to God as I've ever felt anywhere with anyone at anytime and savored the wedding in a sanctuary of God's creative beauty on St. Augustine Beach and felt as close to God as I've ever felt anywhere with anyone at anytime, I recalled my second homiletics professor and dissertation advisor's movement from religion about Jesus to relationship with Jesus not long after he retired from the religion about Jesus over relationship with Jesus institutional gig.
I'll never forget how he invited me to worship with him at an "emerging" church on Nassau Street.
He said he started going there on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings because he wanted something...
If I have to complete that sentence for you, you wouldn't understand anyway.
You decide for yourself.
As pour moi, I'm just Scratching the Surface.
Blessings and Love!
Thursday, July 5, 2012
"The voice of the Lord is powerful."
While Scratching the Surface will dominate KDs for the next six months or so, there will be an occasional detour like this one.
My daddy likes to say, "Some people don't like to see anything happen for the first time."
He also laments, "Some people look like they're either having a vision of God or didn't get to the toilet in time."
It's like KDs.
You be the judge; and I've learned many folks feel comfortable in that position.
Speaking of detours and judgmentalism, I've heard a lot about it concomitant to The Voice.
It's a new translation/paraphrase/hybrid - You be the judge! - of the Bible.
It was first brought to my attention by the founder and manager of www.bnnsradio.com (Bill Villont).
While Bill's journey with Jesus is deepening moment by confessing moment and the fruit of joy and patience are growing exponentially as evidence of his increasing intimacy with Jesus, I kinda blew it off at first because I really don't have time to go to the bathroom these days not to mention reading/reviewing another "new" Bible.
Besides, Bibles don't come cheaply these days and I've been saving up my $ for gas/meals/lodging as my annual missionary/recreational trip to South Dakota approaches.
Fortunately, as I've said before from years of understanding/experiencing how God works when we totally depend upon Him (read Matthew 5:3; 6:33-34; 7:7-12; James 4:3), a not so anonymous friend dropped his dime and sent a copy to me.
Be that as it/He is, I've been reading/absorbing it for a few days now; and have, like Scratching the Surface, some things to say about it/Him without the benefit/pollution of anybody else's reviews. In other words, this review is sure to upset well-heeled scholars and those who think God only speaks in Elizabethan English.
I was kinda surprised to see the name of a former seminary classmate among those on the translation team; though I guess I shouldn't have been because he was the only one who got an A from Bright when the great OT guy spent a semester with us.
Parenthetically, I got a B; which kinda proves where I've always been with classical languages - close but no...
Actually, I would have gotten an A but Paul Swedlund (RIP) made me go with him to pick up a con in a Newark bar who skipped on parole. When I told Paul that I had a final with Bright the next morning, he asked me what Jesus would do. Dang. That question can be so annoying; especially when I'm about to... So we went, got home about two hours before the final, and I came pret' near close to getting a C for the course if you know what I mean.
There are also some poets and musicians who served on the project to produce The Voice that I've known over the years.
So I guess I opened the first pages with a bias; unlike anyone else who...
You know what I mean.
Things that stand out for me if not you or the people who've already condemned it without ever looking at it (Psst. Church people are notorious about the second part of the previous sentence!):
1. The notes interspersed/embedded throughout the text, meaning you don't have to look all over the place for 'em, are surprisingly accurate/cogent in a literary/traditio-historical-critical kinda way; for even a B classical language fellah like me can pick that up.
2. The style reminds me a lot of The Message yet often reads like the NIV on steroids.
3. Speaker identifications in a theatrical fashion allow even non-speed-readers to zip through it with heretofore (pour moi at least) ease and recollection.
4. Italicized amplifications within the text, added for expositional and sometimes exegetical clarity, are captivating, clear, concise, crisp, and confirming of the broader meanings of classical languages juxtaposed to Thayer, TDNT, and so on.
5. Going back to #3, it reads like the script for a Shakespearian play without an antiquated or incomprehensible-to-21st-century-readers literary genre.
6. There are some really helpful special features on lectio divina, the liturgical calendar avec appropriate readings, retreat plans, unique topical guides, and so on.
7. While I know KJVers and other bigots will condemn what they never actually review personally, I think it's a wonderful supplement to your favorite translation/paraphrase; especially for the occasionally curious, just converted, or recently revived in a Scratching the Surface kinda way.
It also proves God intended the Bible as self-authenticating and comprehensible for anyone apart from commentaries and books and other stuff about it.
Really, stop reading about it.
If you'd like to hear more about The Voice, click on www.bnnsradio.com next Tuesday (7/10) at 11:30 a.m. as Kathie, Bill, and Tony review the preceding along with their thoughts while I'm in Florida to preside at the nuptial of Alissa and Brandon and then 7/17 at the same time/station when I rejoin the cast of Kopp Disclosure to give it a whirl/review.
Blessings and Love!
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Scratching the Surface
Just Converted, and
Dedicated with thanks to everyone
who finally convinced me
to say it simply!
"I will tear to bits the dissertations of the Ph.D.s;
I will pull the rug from under those
who have all the answers."
1 Corinthians 1:19
Clarence Jordan, The Cotton Patch Version, 1968
Since first reading Hans Kung's On Being a Christian in 1976, my life and ministry have been challenged by these sentences: the Church's agenda is "to discover what is permanent...originally meant, before it was covered with the dust and debris of two thousand years...This is not another gospel, but the same ancient gospel rediscovered for today!"
35 years later (October 2011), I spent a week with three buddies and Eugene Peterson in Montana; and as I sat and listened and even inquired, I was overwhelmed by how such a renowned pastor, professor, and prolific author talked so simply about the deepest truths of Holy Scripture.
Then it/He hit me!
Everyone who has ever asked and sometimes begged me to speak and write simply remain right.
Indeed, as my passion for Bible-reading grew and grew and grew every moment with Eugene and has not lessened since, I recalled how no one was confused when Jesus ended the best sermon ever (Matthew 5-7). They understood every word; even if they had no intention of paying any attention to Him.
He spoke simply because He wanted everyone to get it/Him.
I confess I've not always done that.
I confess I'm having a hard time doing it.
Yet I am convinced He wants/expects/commands me to keep trying until I stop separating myself from anyone by degrees and communicate the clear, concise, compelling, challenging to the content, comforting to the suffering, timely, eternal, and universally relevant message of Jesus.
In short, I feel like I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus.
I feel like I'm reading the Bible for the first time every time I open it.
I feel like I'm starting all over again in life and ministry; moving from a religion about Jesus to a relationship with Him.
I suspect I'm not alone.
I suspect there are first-timers and older-timers who feel like they're just scratching the surface of their relationship with Jesus.
The following pages are for, uh, us.
Surely, my summaries of basics in Bible books will be negligent, incomplete, inaccurate, and horrifyingly superficial to many scholars and the wannabes who buy their books that become dust-catchers because they're so incomprehensible.
Again, I'm just scratching the surface and admit there are many others who get it/Him much better than me.
So if I'm scratching where you ain't sniffing, I won't be offended if you poop-can this copy because you can do a better job.
Go for it!
For Christ's sake and anyone who wants to get closer to Him!
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!