Thursday, May 30, 2013

He Stepped on My Computer!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    It was early Sunday morning.

    I was drinking a BP smoothie at McDonald's and deciding whether to go low or high or Gothic or warehouse or pew or folding-chair church.

    When I'm away from my undershepherding call in Belvidere, Illinois and spending time with my parents, sister, and kin in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, that's about my biggest decision apart from where to eat the only pizza on the planet worth eating: Dough Company, Grotto, Sabatini's, Januzzi's, Serpico's, Pizza L'Oven, Victory Pig, or...

    Go to the right column and click on 10th for FLHTCU for more on that and how an airplane ticket just appears instantaneously whenever I tell my mom and wife that I'm going to ride my pony to Pa.

    Really, I swear in a remotely Christian kinda way that pizza west of Harrisburg is Wonderbread layered with Hunt's and pale Velveeta.

    Chicago hot dogs are the best.

    Truly, truly, I saith unto thee...

    Chicago pizza is like the guy who never plays guard for the Bulls - waaaaaaay overrated.

    Anyway, thanks to a socket next to the window next to about three others doing the same thing, I was charging up my Gateway Computer Notebook.

    That's when it happened.

    He stepped on my computer with the full force of a behemoth who makes Taft look like Twiggy in a Danskin.

    It broke into three totally shattered/smashed pieces.

    Not even the Rayovac Netbook Battery survived the pounding.

    He said, "I didn't see it.  It happens."

    Yeah, I could see that.

    Yeah, it happens.

    Moretheless, he wasn't really, uh, with it, uh, if you know what I mean.

    So I just looked at him, smiled, and said nothing.

    I figured it was time to learn how to use my dumb phone.

    God works in mysterious ways.


    I'd rather ride my pony.

    Buuuuuuut if mom and wife are buyin' and it means a few extra hours with the octogenarians, I'ma leavin' on a...

    Besides, more pizza.

    Of course, I still, uh, don't like to fly, uh, in a plane.

    Why can't I have a whole can of tomato juice?

    Where have the peanuts gone?

    Why did TSA make me take off my windbreaker vest but the lady with the big bulky knit sweater that Taft could have...?

    A load of Eastern Europeans transferred from some international flight to mine and...

    You could have poured gallons of Axe on...

    It was even more toxic than those midnight masses with Ruthie back in 1968.

    Then a little kid barfed on a guy across the aisle and her momma scolded, "I told you not to eat three pieces of Chicago-style pizza!"

    I could have told her that.

    The woman next to me quickly brought to mind several pericopes in Proverbs if you know what I mean; so I pulled out my ESV Study Bible, she opened her Cosmo, and that was that.

    Yeah, I'd rather ride my pony; buuuuuuut...

    God works in mysterious ways.


    "Pray for a Nation in Need of Healing!"

    Baptist church sign near the airport as dad drove through the downpour, mom told me who died, and I sat in the backseat thinking of the little kid on the plane with the stinky Eastern Europeans...

    My mom asked if I ever think about trimming my facial hair.

    I said it's a Numbers 6 thing.

    Didn't register.

    She said, "Your sister says you look like your head is upside down."

    I said Karry and I are going to audition for ZZ Top before Vicki or Leslie file...

    Didn't register.

    My dad said BBPBHO says the terrorists are not real Muslims.

    I asked, "Is that ignorance or deception?"

    He said, "Geez, Bobby, I don't really give a..."

    Yeah, that sign was perfectly timed.

    God works in mysterious ways.


    We went to Cuz's Bar and Grill in Exeter for Saturday night mass.

    Cuz and the rest of Steel City Mafia NE-Pennsylvania-style were in business.

    Lloyd, Russell, Frenchy, and Lipps were getting $25-30 a crack from idolaters.

    I looked for the Asherah pole dancers.

    Being a Giants fan, I felt like an 81er at a rally of Outlaws.

    Despite my disallegiance, I said to somebody my age wearing a number 86 jersey like a Cub Scout in heat, "Ward is my favorite player of all time."

    Orgasmically, he swooned, "Rice couldn't tie his shoes, man."

    My sister's friend confessed, "I think Frenchy just copped a..."

    I understood.

    God works in mysterious ways.


    I like to shop in Wilkes-Barre Salvation Army stores.

    Money goes to a good cause.

    I can travel light by pony...or plane if I tell mom and wife that...

    The young cashier seemed distraught.

    I asked what's wrong.

    She cried, "My son has cancer and he's going to..."

    I prayed with her on the spot; and nobody in line seemed disturbed.

    That was the Saturday morning before the Sunday morning when he stepped on my computer.

    God works in mysterious ways.


    I think He needs to step on more computers.



Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

10th for FLHTCU

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    While I thought I'd heard all of the reasons why I shouldn't ride my pony which you can read all about in I Just Wanna Ride that I don't care to reiterate because they're born of ignorance or deception, a friend just coughed up one that's never been on my radar.

    He said, "I wish you'd give up your motorcycle 'cause I don't want to go through another pastor search committee."

    After eight years, I guess that was supposed to be even more affirming and affectionate than cute; and I received it as such.

    Yet, I replied, "I think it's more dangerous to be an American diplomat in Libya or catching the attention of the IRS for not goose-stepping to..."

    Talk about ignorance or deception!

    Anyway, I continued, "Besides, I ride because I just wanna ride; and because I really believe in Jesus and what He said about the next life being better than this well as offering hope to my enemies."



    Actually, people, like my mom and wife and guys who act more like gals, who do everything possible to discourage the therapeutic benefits of mounting the mule - got lots of metaphors - not to mention the gender-specific need to domesticate/emasculate/feminize the gender born to be wild (see John Eldredge's Wild at Heart and, uh, I Just Wanna Ride for more on that) haven't discovered my win-win when it comes to travel these days.

    If I want to visit family in Pennsylvania, Texas, or Washington, all I do is talk about carving out a few days to take the pony/mule aka Return out of the barn and an airplane ticket appears instantaneously without me investing a...


    It's win-win.

    While I'd rather take Return and ride and will, I save time and money by just suggesting...

    Amazing how folks can find $ for...

    I could use their help on the 10th for FLHTCU...


    If you're not a biker, don't even try to figure out what that 10th for FLHTCU is all about.


    O.K., the previous was just to catch your attention.

    I gotta confess something.

    Ever since Jesus really, really, really became Lord and Savior of my life - noting that I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Him and His and, ergo, spending even more time than ever before in confession and repentance 'cause I'm more aware than ever before of how I keep messin' up and need cleanin' up and don't know as much as I pretended to know as some kinda vocational, uh, whatever - I can't be as miserable as the people in my life who try to make me as miserable as they are by their OCDish need to control, manipulate, annoy, and, uh, demonize.

    Really, it's hard to be consistently or mostly or too often miserable if you're spendin' more and more and more time with Jesus than them and gettin' filled up with Him more than drained by, uh, them.

    I hope you know what I mean.

    I know trying to explain that to someone who ain't close to Jesus is like tryin' to explain why I ride/mount my...

    I also know that when we're really, really, really gettin' close to Him and, ergo, His, there's another out there with lots of accomplices that wanna drag us down to their miserable...

    Again, hang with Jesus and you won't get hung up by 'em.

    Ya won't even think too much about 'em anymore.

    In short, Jesus saves us from it/them.



Blessings and Love!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Obadiah

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Scratching the Surface of Obadiah


    Big things often come in small packages.

    When I was an active athlete, we talked about it this way: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters most but the size of the fight in the dog."

    A shepherd boy taking on a giant and a baby in a manger and that story that He told about mustard seeds quickly come to mind.

    Size does not matter in the Kingdom.

    Or as Samuel told Saul, "God is looking for people after His own heart."

    Essentially, it's what's in the heart that matters most and makes the most difference.

    We've seen teams with more size and skills lose to smaller and less skilled teams with more heart.

    We've seen churches with more money and ornaments die as churches without that proverbial pot meeting in warehouses survive and thrive.

    Obadiah is the smallest book in the Old Testament; while heralding the biggest message in the whole Bible: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way..."

    Specifically, the book highlights at least three symptoms of people who do not trust God: arrogance, alien allies, and abandonment of approved allies.

    People who don't trust God are arrogant; trusting mostly themselves for survival, stability, and security: "Your deep pride has blinded you to the truth...You say to yourself, 'Whose attack can reach up here and bring me down to the ground?'"  Truth is it's impossible to survive and thrive without declaring dependence upon God here and now and forever.

    People who don't trust God have alien allies; trusting others who do not esteem the only true Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior for survival, stability, and security: "Your supposed allies - every last one - will turn against you...You won't understand what is happening until it is too late."  Surely, such idolatries - having other gods before God - can serve as band-aids in times of trouble; but they never stop the bleeding, never heal, and ultimately do not save.

    People who don't trust God abandon approved allies: "Because of your violent history against your brother Jacob, shame will envelop you, and your nation will be destroyed forever."  God said it first to Abraham: "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.  I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse."  Simply, don't mess with God's people because you won't get away with it forever.

    If you're a geezer like me, you remember Laugh In; and those funny scenes with Sammy Davis, Jr.: "Order in the court!  Here comes the judge!  Here comes the judge!"

    That's what Obadiah does in echoing all of prophetic history.

    Order in the court!

    Order in the nations!

    Order in the churches!

    Here comes the Judge!

    Here comes the Judge!

    And there's nothing to worry about if they've/we've been humble before Him, not allied against Him, and stayed with the family of faith.

@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Amos

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Scratching the Surface of Amos


    Though I'm not a historian, I've lived long enough to think America is more divided now than since the Civil War or during our foray into Vietnam.

    Two old songs that came out about the same time come to mind as a metaphor for these days: Carole King's "It's Too Late" from Tapestry (1971) and Steppenwolf's "It's Never Too Late" from At Your Birthday Party (1969).

    She says it's too late and they say it's never too late.

    She says,

        And it's too late, baby, now it's too late
        Though we really did try to make it
        Something inside has died and I can't hide it
        And I just can't fake it

    They say,

        It's never too late to start all over again
        To love the people you caused the pain
        And help them learn your name
        Oh, no, not too late, it's never too late to
            start all over again

    Which is it?

    It's too late?

    It's never too late?

    Biblically, the answer is yes.

    It's too late if we don't turn back to God.

    It's never too late if we turn back to God.

    That's the basic message of every prophet of the Bible.

    That's the basic message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

    It's repeated over and over and over because we're very thick-skinned, willful, self-reliant, self-righteous, and diseased from the garden with the instinct that we can paddle our own canoes.

    Only God can save us from our inclinations to continue dividing and damning ourselves.

    Amos continues that witness.

    Essentially, he was like that contemporary bumper sticker, "God's Coming Back and He's really..."

    The word thrilled is not appropriate to complete that thought.

    Using fresh symbols and metaphors to reinforce prophets who preceded and will follow him, Amos rails against the bad guys and then rails against the good guys for acting like the bad guys and says they're all gonna get it sooner or later and usually sooner than later and definitely in the end if they don't wise up and turn back to God: "I will send down fire...I will burn down all the fortresses..."

    He's especially angry with the good guys for acting like the bad guys: "You told the prophets, 'Don't you dare prophesy!'"

    Parenthetically, I can think of all of the times in my four decades of undershepherding when I've been told to tone down and water down and, essentially, lie about the truth for those who can't or won't deal, handle, and humble themselves before it/Him; which, of course, is why Jesus later said of people like me who have done that too much for anybody's good, "You make people twice as fit for hell as you are yourselves."

    Amos, again, like the rest of the Bible's communicating God's mind and will and expectations and warnings and graces if we heed His warnings, is very hard on the wealthy who don't help the poor enough: "You have climbed to success on the backs of the poor."

    God doesn't like rich people who forget to care for the poor.

    It's one of the most consistent messages of the Bible; and it's a warning.  God says it's hard for rich people to get into heaven because of their control needs, greed, and sense of entitlement.

    He warns rich people over and over and over again that they can't take it with 'em and it won't be waiting for 'em in hell if they don't do some heaven good with it while on earth.

    Amos reminds us of what He has done for us and the gratitude in the form of obedience to His expressed will in the Bible warrants: "I brought you up from Egypt...I knew and chose you for a relationship with Me..."

    Amos reminds us of the consequences of not turning back to God in His own words: "I will punish you for the wrong you have done."

    Amos reminds us that we can avoid the deserving consequences of our previous disobedience: "Turn back to Me and you will live.  There is still time...Search for good and not for evil so that you may live..."

    Amos also cautions, "If you don't, He will flame up like fire..."

    It's our choice.

    It's America's choice. 

    It's every country's choice.

    It's every church's choice.

    It's every family's choice.

    It's every person's choice.

    It's too late if we don't turn back to God.

    It's never too late if we turn back to God.


@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Joel

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Scratching the Surface of Joel


    Have you ever seen that bumper sticker, "God's Coming Back Soon...and He's Really..."?

    While Jesus said nobody knows for sure when that day's coming except the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, that day's coming; and when we read Matthew 24, Mark 13, and other related texts and recognize the birthpangs of that day increase in frequency and intensity as the day draws closer...

    Well, you get the point; and if you don't, as bikers like to say, I can't explain it to you.

    Moretheless, as the Boy Scouts used to say as Jesus still does, "Be prepared!"

    That was His way of saying we can avoid a lotta trouble by not getting caught with our pants down in any fashion when that day comes without any more warning than we've already received.

    No excuses when that day comes.

    We have been warned.

    Joel is about that day.

    God's people are devastated by locusts: "We have been invaded!  What the cutting locusts left, the swarming locusts consumed; what the swarming locusts left, the creeping locusts consumed; what the creeping locusts left, the stripping locusts finished off."


    Sounds awful.

    It was.

    But Joel is about that locust plague being nothing compared to "the great and terrible day of the Lord" that is coming.

    Stepping back, the locust plague came because God used it to punish His people for insulting His holiness in so many ways.

    "The great and terrible day of the Lord" - a repeated theme/warning in the Bible - refers to the really, really, really big and much, much, much unimaginably awful judgment that is coming to people who persist in insulting His holiness in so many ways.

    Sounds awful.

    It will be: "Judgment will come on a black and fearful day; a thick cloud of darkness will loom over everything.  A great and mighty army advances like dawn spreading across the mountains.  Never has the world seen anything like it before, nor will future generations ever see anything like it again...The army is like a fire, consuming everything...a scorching flame burning everything...Nothing is spared..."


    Fortunately, we know God wants to save everybody.

    That's what Jesus was/is/remains all about.

    Jesus proves that point - the biggest point in the big book.

    So Joel points to the only path to avoid the totally devastating punishment of that day: "Who can survive?...Turn back your heart and rededicate yourselves to Me...Show Me your repentance by fasting, weeping, and mourning....Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don't just tear your clothing...Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved..."

    My buddy Cliff said he no longer nods like a good humor man agreeing with the last person that he's talked to like an incomplete sentence ending in a preposition when someone says, "Pastor, please pray for me..."  Now he asks, "Before I pray for you, are you serious about repenting?"

    Cliff got that from Joel: "Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don't just tear your clothing..."

    In other words, walk the talk!

    Saying without doing, as James makes so clear, is a lie.

    Doing after saying confirms the veracity of confession.

    That's what the call to fasting in Joel is all about: "Blow the trumpet!...Set apart a time for fasting...Assemble the people..."

    Do something!

    Show the seriousness of what you say about loving God!

    I'll never forget that big church meeting in the mid-seventies in Baltimore, Maryland when I sat with several other last year seminarians in a room on the fifth floor of the Hilton Hotel with Dr. James I. McCord who was President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches as well as our seminary; and how he challenged us: "I don't care what you do, boys!  But do something for God's sake!"

    That's Joel's message.

    That's the Bible's message.

    Do something for God's sake!

    Don't be like that drunk on the old Jackie Gleason show: "I ain't doin' nothin'...I'm just hangin' aroun'...doin' nothin'..."

    Do something for God's sake!

    That's how we show our appreciation for Him as our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior; and avoid the awful consequences of not doing anything for God's sake when that inevitable day comes.

@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Dennis the Menace said to Margaret, "I wonder what Mom would like for Mother's Day."

    Margaret: "Why don't you promise to go to bed when she tells you, keep your room cleaned up, eat your vegetables, brush your teeth, and wash your hands before dinner?"

    Dennis: "No, I mean something practical."


    Another Dennis with the last name Miller, who may be the last honest-through-humor-that-sticks-in-the-knife-of-truth-and-twists-it-before-ya-know-what-hit-ya commentator on the decline of American civilization from the left or right, has observed, "The relationship between mothers and children never changes; and that's because no matter how rich or powerful you are, your mother still remembers when you were 3 and put Spaghetti-Os up your nose."


    I always feel guilty on MD because I am.

    I haven't always been the best son; and there's something kinda superficial - and even more sickening, labored, and tired than those sermons using M-O-T-H-E-R as an acrostic to esteem 'em - about saying nice things about our moms that should be said on more than one day a year.


    Getting back to feeling guilty which usually happens when we are unless we're related to Woody Allen, I always feel guilty on MD because I haven't spent it with my mom for over 4 decades; which, sadly, corresponds to starting seminary.

    If I have to explain that sense of guilt to ya, ya probably wouldn't understand or wanna understand anyway; which may be my only lingering bitterness and resentment about my Beruf.


    Getting back to MD which I haven't in an incarnational kinda way in over 4 decades, I recall the story of the little girl who says to her mom, "Today is your special day, Mother!  So I want you to know that you won't have to do the dishes today.  They can wait until tomorrow!"

    It reminds me of something else that lots of moms don't wanna hear; but is really important for anyone's salvation including moms.

    It's the story of Martha and Mary having Jesus over for dinner (Luke 10:38-42).


    Here's the story; using the wonderful translation with amplifications of The Voice: "Jesus came to another village.  Martha, a resident of that village, welcomed Jesus into her home.  Her sister Mary, went and sat at Jesus' feet, listening to Him teach.  Meanwhile Martha was anxious about all the hospitality arrangements."

    I see a bad moon arisen'...

    Back to the script, Martha interrupts Jesus, "Lord, why don't You care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her to get over here and help me."

    Psst.  I think that's the sanitized revised version of what she said.

    Now here's where Jesus gets into trouble with lots of moms and, uh, people like moms who are really, really, really anal about protocol/tradition/duty/busyness while forgetting Jesus is God and knows what really, really, really matters in the end: "Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details, but really, only one thing matters.  Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won't take it away from her."

    I see a bad moon arisin'...

    Fortunately, Luke ends the story with that quote; which, if you catch Martha's drift, was probably prudent.


    O.K., remember Jesus is God - not just another guy.

    He knows what's best for us - female and male - now and forever.

    He's, uh, God.

    So we gotta go back to the story and pay attention to it/Him.


    Jesus did not say anything negative about what Martha was doing.

    Somebody's gotta handle the details.

    Buuuuuuut Jesus was saying it's best to hang out with Him.

    Martha was doing something good.

    Mary was doing something

    Martha was doing something fixed in time - making a meal that goes in one end and comes out the other.

    Mary was doing something that lasts forever - soaking in Jesus.


    Oswald Chambers: "Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on Him.  A great many Christian workers worship their work."


    Don't substitute a superficial religion about Jesus for an intimately personal and saving relationship with Him!

    Martha's religion about Jesus was good.

    Mary's relationship with Jesus was


    I just couldn't face another MD with one of those M-O-T-H-E-R...


Blessings and Love!