Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Dream and Prayer to Save the Damning

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    It began when I could no longer hide my sin; and decided to pray and labor to enflesh John 3:19-21.

    That was 14 or 15 years ago.

    It accelerated last October 2011 with Eugene and my covenant brothers.

    I'm either moving deeper and deeper and deeper into intimacy with Him or having a nervous breakdown.

    Anyway, here's a dream and prayer related to...



Recently, I was asked why I am so increasingly passionate about peace, unity, and purity in, through, and for Jesus.

Uh, it's because we become increasingly passionate about what matters to Jesus as we become more intimate with Him; or as the apostle tried to articulate the experience/expression: "It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me."

We begin to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: Jesus.

We begin to experience/express Joshua's boldness, strength, and courage as a fruit of intimacy with Him: "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

Well, I had a dream on Sunday.

I met someone for coffee who had left First about nine years ago; though the face kept changing to people who had left before, during, and after...

The faces were similar, recognizable, uneasy, and longing for something forfeited; but the eyes were indescribably vacant, cold, and dark.

As she/he tried to explain why she/he left, I interrupted and said/asked, "I hope you're not expecting to go to heaven when you die; because heaven includes all of the people who have loved Jesus.  You divorced yourself from members of the family when you left; so why would you want to spend eternity with people who weren't worth your time, love, and forgiveness for just a lifetime?  Why do you expect to live with them in heaven when you couldn't live with them on earth?"

I have never said anything like that to anyone; yet a sense of truth about it/Him has stayed with me since awakening.

Then Ella Jane's prayer (below) arrived on Monday morning; and shortly thereafter a personal note: "Bob, you and I are feeling the same heartbeat from the Father...'Make us one!'...This has been so strong and unshakeable with me for the past several weeks.  We need unity and love if we are going to impact the world."

Somehow - beyond me to calculate or comprehend - it all seems related to an outburst during Sunday morning's message that kept going through my spirit during a Sunday afternoon ordination: "We've already got too many Democrats, Republicans, Masons, Shriners, Lions, Elks, Moose, 81s, 1%ers, Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Congregationalists, Lutherans, Methodists, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, EVFs, AGs, and...with all of their idolatries, separations, and segregations so insulting to the One who sacrificed Himself for peace, unity, and purity and so damningly distracting from the only One who saves here and now and forever: 'You make converts twice as fit for...as you are yourselves!'"

We need more, uh, Christians.

I don't know what it all means.

I'm just scratching the surface.

But I think it has something to do with God as final arbiter.


Very, very, very sobering.

Blessings and Love!


Prayer for America
“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3


My heart is heavy with the need to pray for unity in our Nation and in the Churches.  If we do not unite as one, we give the enemy a great advantage over us.  I pray that your heart will be stirred to prayer to pray as Jesus prayed, "Father, make them one, even as You and I are One."  It is a time of repentance for the Church and for America.

Father God,

    I watch with horror as we increasingly turn from Your ways. Your precious Word speaks so strongly to our situation: “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men” (Ps. 12:8).
    The Psalmist David again asks the right question for our day, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3).

    Lord, You have greatly blessed our nation. From our beginning, there have been those in leadership who have honored You and sought to lead us in righteousness. You have made us a beacon for freedom around the world for those who are oppressed and downtrodden. The material blessings from Your hand have welled up in national generosity to help those who are hurting, both within and outside our borders.

    We recognize our imperfect human nature and structures. While fighting for freedom, we had periods of slavery within our own nation. Even with slavery behind us, freedom was not always available to all in the same measure. The list of our sins, Lord, is long. We slaughter the innocent in wombs of choice. We defile the sanctity of marriage and make it vile. We love the pleasures of darkness even while professing to be Carriers of Your Light.  We call good evil...and evil good.  We are filled with self-centeredness, self-pleasure, and a "me first" mentality while claiming You as Lord. We know little about self-denial and denial of our will to take up Your ways.  We build our lives and houses and allow Yours to go to waste.  Our Ministers have profaned Your mercy and grace, and have built personal kingdoms instead of blessing Your Kingdom. We are a Nation and a Church filled with idolatry that denies Your Power. We bow our knees to the gods of this world and have become a lukewarm church with a lukewarm message that entertains instead of transforms. Without Your mercy, who could stand?

    Throughout our nation’s history You have blessed us with times of spiritual awakening and revival. Your Spirit moved in our midst to restore godly worship. You empowered Your people to be witnesses to Your truths and to take stands for righteousness and justice.

    Oh God, do it again! Come upon Your people again in reviving power. Before our nation can be changed, our hearts must be changed. Turn us from selfishness and sin to Your loving ways. Forgive our Nation for turning from You, and for the sins of idolatry and wickedness.  Forgive Your people for our transgressions and slothful ways.

    Your Word tells us, Lord, that judgment begins in the house of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17). May Your mercy and grace also begin there. Pour out a spirit of repentance upon the Church in America. Forgive us for making our faith more about us and our comfort and preferences than about Your purposes on planet earth. Fill our pulpits with godly preachers who will proclaim Your Word fearlessly.

    We will respond to Your Word as those who are called by Your name, humbling ourselves before You and in prayer, seeking Your face and turning from our wicked ways. Father, will You then hear from heaven and forgive our sin and heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14).

On Bended Knees and Bowed Heart,

Pastor Ella Jane Coley
Passageway Ministries
P.O. Box 507
Bixby, OK 74008

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    I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with the Lord and Lord's.

    The less I acknowledge I know, the more people come to travel avec moi.

    The doors on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois along with those of my heart are wide open.

    I've stopped trying to figure out what He's up to in my life; and that includes ministry entrusted to me.

    I've given up.

    I think that should have happened long before I dared to be an undershepherd.

    I don't know why it took me so long to leave religion about Him for a relationship with Him.

    Better late than...

    Go back to the dream and prayer.

    I've never been happier in my life.

    Read Psalm 131.

    He wants that for me...you...everyone.

    That's why He can be called...love.


Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Indigestions/Inspirations During a Sunday Afternoon Ordination

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    After two glorious worship services in the morning with so many new faces so hungry and thirsty for an authentic relationship with Jesus detached from plagued, polluted, and spiritually paralyzing religions being sported by pewsitters and pulpiteers who've taken the Jeffersonian approach to revelation and torn out Matthew 23 and 1 Corinthians 1 from their Bibles, I spent the afternoon presiding at a memorial service for a dear saint and then participating in the ordination of someone who actually, really, no kidding, still loves Jesus even after seven years of lower education concomitant to religious more than Christologically related scrutiny.

    Or something like that.

    I heard a great sermon and charge to the new pastor by two friends who are on the verge of bold, courageous, and faithful leadership in their franchise because, uh, well, uh, they're getting closer and closer and closer to Jesus and that eventually ends up taking on...

    All of the participants were into Him; and the moderator led with a firm yet gentle and faithful style.

    I was tired when I arrived; but energized as I worshipped under inspired leadership and left for dinner with an old friend from First who was back in town for the weekend feeling really, uh, refreshed.

    Of course, I hope someone has cautioned our new colleague in a Matthew 10 kinda way.

    C'mon, be honest.

    The only people who get ordained who don't get hassled and hated by the enemy's agents who are always slipping and slithering around "faithful" churches are the good humor women/men who agree with the last person they've talked to, uh, to get along, be liked, and not be hassled or hated for being too closely identified with Jesus and heralding the good news that He loves us just the way we are while loving us too much to leave us just the way we are.  You know, uh, that salt and light thing.

    Read Matthew 5-7 if you've forgotten the theme of the last paragraph.

    Anyway, I've often felt the fourth stanza of Hopkins' hymn of 1857 ("We Three...") is a must for any worship service including an ordination to undershepherding ministry.

    Look it up.

    That's true for everyone who's been true - more than less or trying at least - to Jesus; and false for everyone who's not been...

    Deal with it.

    If you're one of those pewsitters or pulpiteers who's liked by everyone, that includes the bad guys and their leader who's trying to steal salvation from people starving for a relationship with Jesus not a religion kinda related to Him.

    Jesus said that.

    Truth is we've already got too many Democrats, Republicans, Masons, Shriners, Lions, Elks, Moose, 81s, 1%ers, Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Congregationalists, Fundamentalists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, EVFs, AGs, and...with all of their idolatries, separations, and segregations so insulting to the One who sacrificed Himself for peace, unity, and purity and so damningly distracting from the only One who saves here and now and forever: "You make your converts twice as fit for...as you are yourselves!"

    We need more, uh, Christians.

    We need more people who want to come together through Him than separate and segregate in defiance of His best intentions for peace, unity, and purity.

    Or something like that.


    I thought about that during the offering at 3:00 p.m.

    You can't have your cake and...


    Read Psalm 133.

    Read John 17.

    The problem comes from us and solution comes from Him.

    Go ahead, pals, trumpet those idolatries, separations, segregations, and schisms!

    Go ahead, rationalize 'em!

    Go ahead, be a loyal company woman/man!

    Feel the pride?

    Feel better?

    But be careful; for it's very, very, very close in a diabolical way to blasphemy against...

    And not knowing what that means can/will be very, very, very...


    Cowman: "This is the blessed life - not anxious to see far down the road nor overly concerned about the next step, not eager to choose the path nor weighted down with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following the Shepherd, one step at a time."


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Scratching the Surface of Ruth

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of Ruth



    I was asked to provide a "devotional" for the United Way's annual kick-off in our community back on September 19, 2012 (abbreviated summary):

        Jesus prayed, "Father, may they all be one - united - to prove You sent Me."

        You may recall Frank Layden, former coach of the Utah Jazz, confronting
        an under-achieving player, "Son, I don't get it with you.  Is it ignorance or
        apathy?"  The player responded, "Coach, I don't know and I don't care!"

        Many so-called Christians and churches talk and act like that when it
        comes to the unity expected by Jesus...

        Too many of 'em are ignorant or arrogant or both as they don't show the
        tie that binds and talk, act, and look so irregular, irascible, irreconcilable,
        cranky, contentious, and divisive...

        They have the gall to get up on Sundays to sing, "Blest be the tie that
        binds...They'll know we are Christians by our love..."

        They don't get along and have the audacity to tell the world how to do
        what they don't do...

        I remember Billy Graham saying to one of 'em, "If someone asks who's
        your pastor, please don't mention me!"

        Or as I had to say to someone about four years ago, "Please change
        your behavior so I don't have to lie at your funeral."

        Come to think of it, I haven't seen her since...

        We have no credibility for telling the world how to get along - united -
        if we don't/aren't...

        That's why Jesus prayed, "Father, may they all be one - united - to

        That's why I praise God for the United Way.

        It helps us to keep His prayer; drawing us together for the common
        good and drawing us above our silly separations and segregations...

        The united way.

        And remember, Jesus said, "I am the way..."

    Some folks who don't like some of the things that the United Way supports asked how/why I could/should provide a "devotional" for them.

    I repeated the devotional; and if they persisted, I asked if they are pure and perfect in every way and totally committed to the will of God as exemplified in Jesus and explained in Holy Scrripture: "What's that I see in your eye?"

    Knowing no one doesn't need our Source, Starter, and Sovereign as Savior, no one is any better or any worse than anybody else when it comes to needing our Source, Starter, and Sovereign as Savior.

    Redundant reality.

    Everyone shares the same family tree.

    Everyone has the same roots.

    We are the Adamsons - daughters and sons of our first parents with the same inclination to insult God's holiness and injure God's people.

    We're related in our need for Him as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.

    This connection is illustrated by Ruth.

    She was born on the wrong side of the tracks - living in the unPromised Land.

    Something of a minimum wage migrant worker with minimal educational or socioeconomic credentials, she had the most important thing going for her: loyalty.

    The story.

    Elimelech and Naomi with their two sons Mahlon and Kilion move from Bethlehem in Israel across the Dead Sea to Moab because of a famine.  That means they left the Promised Land to make a living among Arabs.

    Things got worse.

    Elimelech dies.

    Then Naomi's Jewish sons marry Arabs named Orpah and Ruth; and though it wasn't absolutely forbidden for Jews to marry Arabs, it wasn't especially kosher.

    Things got worse.

    Mahlon and Kilion die; meaning Jewish mother-in-law Naomi is now living in the unPromised Land with Arab daughters-in-law.

    Hearing the good old days have returned to Bethlehem, Naomi decides to split; and knowing her Arab daughters-in-law would be as popular in Israel as Bears in Green Bay, she tells Orpah and Ruth to stay home.

    Orpah takes to it like a free agent to a cash bonus.

    "But Ruth," we read, "clung to her."

    In one of life's most difficult tests of loyalty - sacrificing personal security - the young Arab Ruth stayed with her old Jewish mother-in-law Naomi.

    Things got better.

    Ruth's loyalty was honored by God with a new home, husband, and son named Obed.

    Things got better.

    Obed was the father of Jesse who was the father of David in a family tree that moved to the climax of His story in the birth of Jesus.

    Do you get it/Him?

    Everyone is related!


    Because everyone has the same Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.

    It's the united way.

    Again, as Jesus said, "I am the way..."

    Like the young Arab and old Jew coming together through love and loyalty, God's family is defined by Jesus in the simplest of qualifying terms: "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

    According to our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, family has nothing to do with color, class, or culture.

    It's all about coming together in, through, and for Him.

    That's Ruth's story.

    That's ours.

    Ruth said it for the whole family: "Entreat me not to leave or return from following you; for wither thou goest, I will go.  Where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people will be my people.  And your God will be my God."

    While reading His story according to Ruth, I kept thinking back to my favorite lines from 20th century American poet E.E. Cummings (aka e.e. cummings):

        I am blue.
        You are yellow.
        Together we make green.
        And green is my favorite color.

    Truly, truly, truly, that's devotional.


    ...to be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Election Day Cometh for Believers

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"Elegant speech sounds odd when it comes from a fool,
and a lie on the lips of a leader
is even more out of place!"

Proverbs 17:7


    No, I'm not talking about the rapture, Matthew 24, Mark 13, or...

    I've got a street preacher buddy who knows lots about that in a Mayan kinda way.


    Be that as he is, I'm talking about November 6.


    You may have noticed I haven't endorsed anyone for the big one.

    I'm having a hard enough time figuring out who's gonna get mine without figuring out who's gonna get yours.

    All I know is it's really, really, really important to pick the better of the two...

    Gotta vote for somebody; unless ya don't give a...


    While I may be wrong which is why I'm not gonna tell ya who should get your vote, I believe there is a better of the two, uh, choices in God's mind.

    That's because I don't believe God is double-minded.

    Just as I don't believe God is as confused as we are on issues like when life begins, whether some life is more sacred than others, Israel, Islam, human sexuality, free enterprise versus socialism, the right to medical care for everybody, Moyers or Greta, or if Notre Dame deserves to play in the BCS Championship Game, I believe God isn't as double-minded as we are about whether the Mormon or other guy would make a better...

    Cowman: "Whenever you are in doubt as to which way to turn, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, asking Him to shut every door but the right one."

    In other words, I suggest diving into the Word and staying in prayer until compelled to vote for...


    One of the most courageous pastors to ever cross my path is Cliff Mansley.

    He's pastor of New Creation Church in Joplin, Missouri; and has taught me not to play footsies with the devil or people playing footsies with the devil.

    Anyway, I'll never forget when he stood up during a stated meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery at the conclusion of an extremely hot debate and yelled just before balloting, "Vote for Jesus!"





    When we pull the curtain on November 6 to vote for..., let's not pull the curtain on Him.

    Vote for Jesus!


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Scratching The Surface of Judges

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of Judges



    You may have heard about the fellah who did the right thing and didn't try to beat a red light by accelerating through the intersection.

    A tailgating young woman behind him was furious, honked her horn repeatedly, screamed in frustration, gestured obscenely, and dropped the cellular and lipstick that she had been juggling while keeping one eye on the road and the other in the mirror.

    While still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on the window.

    It was a very serious-looking police officer.

    He ordered her out of the car, cuffed her, and then took her to the police station to be fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

    After a few hours, another officer came to her cell, opened it, and escorted her back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal property.

    He said, "I'm very sorry for my mistake.  I pulled up behind your car while you were honking your horn, screaming, cursing, and making obscene gestures.  Having noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do?' and 'Choose Life' and 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper stickers and fish emblem on the trunk, I just thought someone had stolen your car."

    Here's one that happened to me.

    A guy sported a "Honk If You Love Jesus" bumper sticker on his back fender.  I honked and he gave me the finger.

    It's like that annoying question that pops into the mind every now and then, "If Christianity were a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict me?"

    Are we identifiably His?

    Judges reminds us to be identifiably His for His honor and our own good.

    Like Moses and Joshua before them, the judges or reminders reminded people to remember God as the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior and respond accordingly even if it means going counter-culture.

    Again, like Moses and Joshua before them, the judges reminded people of God's role in their lives as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, called people to repeat behavior based on that belief, and retool fidelity to the circumstances.

    I like how Tozer explained faithful remembrance, repetition, and retooling: "The way to spiritual power and favor with God is to be willing to put away the weak compromises and the tempting evils to which we are prone to cling.  There is no Christian victory or blessing if we refuse to turn away from the things God hates...Even if your wife loves it, turn away...Even if your husband loves it, turn away...Even if it is something that has come to be accepted by the whole generation, turn away...Every Christian holds the key to his or her own spiritual attainment...if he or she refuses to hate sin and evil and wrong, our churches might as well be turned into lodges or clubs."

    The book reminds us that we are never "caught in the middle" if we are really His.  We're either for Him or against Him.  Jesus was commandingly clear, "You cannot serve two masters...If you love Me, you will obey Me."

    The book features judges or reminders who rescued people willing to follow God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior: "The Lord raised up judges to rescue the Israelites from their enemies."

    The game plan was simple.

    As Tug McGraw yelled to those Amazin' Mets of the late 60s, "You gotta believe!"

    We gotta believe and we gotta behave like we believe to be rescued.

    It is the thread weaving throughout Holy Scripture.

    Trust God and be blessed.

    Conversely, lack of trust makes it impossible to tap into His rivers of living water.

    It's also interesting to note in Judges that the heroes are quite human.

    They could sin with the worst of us.

    That reality has a way of reminding and rescuing us as well.

    We are reminded that God alone is Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.

    Only God is completely trustworthy.

    And when it comes to rescuing, we need Someone a lot more divine than judges.

    Like Jesus!


    ...to be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Can You Be A Servant Without Leading?

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


"I'm glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess...I don't have a sense of
needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever
my circumstances.  I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much
as with little.  I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry,
hands full or hands empty.  Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make
it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."

Philippians 4:10-14



    Can you be a servant without leading?

    That sounds like a silly question; but churches are plagued, polluted, and paralyzed by people who cannot serve unless they lead.

    Truly, those who lead serve if called by God to lead for a season or seasons or...

    Leadership can be excruciating service in a Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16ff. kinda way.

    Folks don't like to talk about that during PAM.

    Be that as it is, let's get back to the question.

    Can you be a servant without leading?

    Churches are plagued, polluted, and paralyzed by people who cannot serve unless they lead because of the If-I'm-not-in-charge-I'm-gonna-quit-stop-participating-give-less virus from the pit of...

    Sadly, they miss Him: "Whoever wants to be great must be a servant.  Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve..."


    I've been in this business for almost four decades; and that virus has been in every church that I've been called to undershepherd.

    While our family of faith in Belvidere, Illinois is experiencing slow, steady, and solid growth in, through, and for Him in every way, there's also been a trickle out by people who cannot serve unless they lead.

    Again, this virus plagues, pollutes, and paralyzes just about every church.

    If not yours, praise the Lord!

    So if not yours, then pray for the infected.

    Anyway, I've seen very active/generous elders drop out of sight after "serving" on session, pastors drop out of sight after "serving" as chairwomen/men of presbytery/conference/paradenominational/civic/whatever committees, musicians/vocalists drop out of sight after "serving" as section leaders or lead instruments or choral directors, PNCers drop out of sight after "serving" and not getting the kind of pastor who will be her/his best friend or champion of their agenda or lover, teachers who can't be students, and...

    They take their energies, giftings, and money away to another "place" and usually buy their way into "service" to punish who they've left who will not acknowledge, affirm, and applaud their "service" that only "serves" when they lead.

    Of course, the cycle repeats itself when they rotate off or move out or get nudged out of their "servant" leadership and can no longer serve unless they lead.

    I suspect most of you know what I'm talking about; and, again, if you don't, praise the Lord!

    If you can't relate to this problem, pray for the infected.


    I've been reading classical devotionals.

    No, not Joel or Ricky or...

    Classical not navelgazing devotionals that are more about Jesus than...

    I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus and I figure I can learn a lot from folks who've scratched before me.

    Well, I was reading the January 7 devotional - yeah, I know it's October but, uh, that's just me - of Cowman's Streams in the Desert and a parable in it caught my attention juxtaposed to the preceding:

        A king went to his garden...only to find everything withered and dying.

        He asked the oak tree...what the trouble was.

        The oak tree said it was tired of life and determined to die because
        it was not tall and beautiful like the pine tree.

        The pine was troubled because it could not bear grapes like the

        The grapevine was determined to throw its life away because it
        could not stand erect and produce fruit as large as peaches.

        The geranium was fretting because...

        And so it went throughout the garden.

        Yet coming to a violet, the king found its face as bright and
        happy as ever and said, "Well, violet, I'm glad to find one
        brave little flower in the midst of this discouragement.  You
        don't seem to be the least disheartened."

        The violet responded, "No, I'm not.  I know I'm small, yet
        I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree
        or even a lilac, you would have planted one.  Since I knew
        you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little
        violet I can be."

    Cowman: "People who are God's without reservation 'have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.'  His will becomes their will...They strip themselves of everything, and in their nakedness find everything restored a hundredfold."



    Three recent conversations come to mind.

    Yielding much of the worship leadership of our second service to our Director of Music and Arts, I confessed, "I'm actually worshipping in worship now.  I just do my thing - message, prayers, sacraments, and other stuff every now and then - and participate in worship like everybody else.  It's so great to give up control to Him through others.  I should have yielded long ago."

    I begged a colleague, "Please don't come to meetings only when you're leading or advocating something 'cause it comes off as so arrogant and condescending and..."

    I urged the organist of another church who quit because she didn't like..., "You can set a great example of love and service if you join the choir.  There's nothing more powerful and persuasive and humble and...as someone who can be led after leading..."


    It's a spiritual problem/possibility.

    Go back to Philippians 4.

    Now get out your concordance and read entries for humility.


    God really seems to like those who can be servants without leading.



Blessings and Love!