Sunday, July 28, 2013

Short and Sweet/Salty?

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"Sermonettes yield Christianettes."



    How often have you heard pastors slip and say they went to cemetery when they meant...?


    For so many years, I typed a worship worksheet for my secretaries.

    Up at the top, I'd type, "A Service for the Whoreship of God."

    It only changed when, uh, I...


    Psychological slips?

    Spiritually apocalyptic?


    Why didn't we read Matthew 15:1-9 and 23 in seminary?

    Why don't we ask about those texts when examining candidates for ordination?

    Why don't we have "education moments" about distinguishing posing from authentic faith by the book as enfleshed by the incarnate One?


    My wife took many of our youth to a conference in July.

    A speaker said, "There is hardly any connection between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of most churches."



    Are we so sweetly salving?

    Are we the salt that stings on open wounds to save from...?

    Getting back to Matthew 15 and 23...


Blessings and Love!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Only Unforgivable Sin

Kopp Disclosure

(John 3:19-21)



Scratching the Surface


The Only Unforgivable Sin

(A Brief/Incomplete Guide to Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit)

Jesus said every sin will/can be forgiven except one: “Listen to this carefully.  I’m warning you.  There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven.  But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connections with the One who forgives.”

The Holy Spirit’s primary witness is to Jesus as Lord and Savior; meaning a blasphemous rejection of the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin because it is a rejection of Jesus as Lord and Savior: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Albert Truesdale: “The unpardonable sin is a sin that cannot be forgiven.  The phrase refers to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  It is to refuse to accept the fact that Jesus is the Christ.  The person who rejects Christ rejects the word of the Holy Spirit.  A person cannot be forgiven as long as he rejects Christ.”

Simply, the only one who can keep anyone out of heaven is anyone who chooses not to accept Jesus as Lord of all and forgiving Savior of souls (cf. Matthew 12:22-37, Mark 3:20-30, and Luke 12:8-10 to John 3:16-21 and Hebrews 10).

That’s unforgivable.

While I don’t pretend to know everything about, uh, anything as I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus, I know this judgment has caused lots of distress and debate.

Indeed, I’ve often caught myself wondering, especially after I’ve said or done something contradicting Christian confession/conduct/countenance as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture, if I’ve committed this unforgivable sin.

Like everybody else who knows a day is coming when everybody will return from the cemetery but…, I really, really, really wanna go to heaven after my last breath in time.

Sooooooo I’ve spent lots of time scratching and digging and dropping to my knees to understand it and how I can avoid its verdict.

Here’s what I’ve discovered/discerned:

ÿ - Blasphemy is slandering God by ascribing things to Him that are not confirming and consistent with what we know about Him as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture; hence, it is grotesque irreverence, disrespect, defiance, hostility, and evil-speaking directed at God.  It is anti-Christ.  It is rejection of God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.

ÿ - Specifically, within the context of the Gospelers’ reporting of our Lord’s judgment, His enemies accused Him of healing a demon-oppressed man by sorcery (viz., exercising powers enabled by unholy communion with Satan); saying, essentially, “The devil made him do it!”  Heinous!  Evil!  Unforgivable! 

ÿ- John Calvin observed, “They sin against the Holy Spirit who, with evil intention, resist God’s truth, although by its brightness they are so touched that they cannot claim ignorance.  Such resistance along constitutes this sin.”  That’s why he said people who are authentic rather than posing Christians show the “signs” of salvation/Christianity; or as Luther noted, “Good works don’t make a person good; but a good person does good works.”  No, that’s not “works” righteousness; or working one’s way into heaven.  Yes, it means “righteous works” indicate holy communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  That’s what we mean by the fruit/evidence/proof of being in holy communion with Him (see Galatians 5:16-26).  With no apologies to the grammar police, Christians are “more better” than “more worse” and praying and laboring to incarnate intimacy with Jesus.  While no one will never not need Jesus as Savior to fill in the gap between human sin and divine holiness, people who are getting closer to Jesus are moving farther away from confession/conduct/countenance contradicting communion with Him.  Read James!  Shaking some salt, we can see anti-Christianity in behaviors dominated by selfishness, schism, segregation, separation, control needs, greed, inability to serve unless leading, irascibility, irregularity, and irreconcilability that leave little room for Christlike traits like selflessness, unconditional favor, mercy, reconcilable intentions/incarnations, redemptive passions, forgiveness, and other, again, Christlike traits.

ÿ- Anyone who’s ever worried about committing this sin probably hasn’t; or as Alan Richardson encouraged, “People who are distressed in their souls for fear that they have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost should in most cases be told that their distress is proof that they have not committed that sin.”

People who are not committing this sin are less and less and less rejecting Him as Lord and Savior of their lives!

People who receive not reject Him can’t get enough of Him, hunger and thirst to worship Him and work for Him and witness to Him, don’t divorce themselves from Him and His, and resist the dark temptations to separate, segregate, slander, gossip, malign, bite, bark, bruise, beat, batter, or butcher.

People who receive not reject Him remember, “As you do it to/for others…[positively or pejoratively]…you do it to/for Me!”

A favorite story comes to mind.

A man asked a missionary, “How can I be saved?”

Answer: “Too late!  He’s already done that for you!”

To reject that/His good news or to talk/act consistently-more-than-less like you reject that/His good news is absolutely…unforgivable.

Our choice!  Choose forgiveness!  Choose life!  Choose Jesus!

Are you still looking for a different way to do church?

Are you tired of the SOSO RELIGION?

Are you put off by posers in pews, politics, and pulpits?

Are you searching for something/Someone real, honest, timely, and true to…?
Try our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belivdere, Illinois!

Sundays at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m.

Blessings and Love!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Haggai

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of Haggai



    My first field education experience in seminary was with Jim Powl in Woodbury Heights, New Jersey.

    I'll never forget one of his sermons that has stayed with me for 40 years.

    He put a big rocking chair in the middle of the chancel area right in front of the communion table.

    Then he just started rocking and rocking and...for what seemed like...forever.

    Then he said, "I've been in your homes.  They are very, very, very nice.  You have the best of everything.  You have spared no expense to make your homes so beautiful as a tribute to yourselves.  I find it rather sad that you've spent so little on making this house of God as beautiful as your homes as a tribute to your Lord who gave so much to you in this life with the promise of eternal life."


    Haggai comes to mind.

    God uses him to tell His people that they spend too much time and energy and money on their homes instead of His; and the big point is trickles don't turn into rivers of living water - blessings from Him - until we reverse that priority.

    God said build: "Go up to the mountains, and bring down trees to make lumber and build My house.  Do this so I may take pleasure in it and be honored by it."

    God is always in the business of expansion and improving!

    God isn't a standard number 2 lead pencil!

    God is the best of...everything!

    God is all about building upon the best of the past for a better future!

    Truth is a basic axiom of organizational life is we get better or worse.

    We don't stay the same.

    Unfortunately, too many people and even churches that should know better long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more which is sin (viz., a rejection of God's will to get better and improve because there's always room for improvement).

    Listen to the people's excuse and God's response: "These people living in Jerusalem say it's not yet the right time for them to rebuild the temple...Do you think the time is right for you to live in secure and lavishly covered homes when My house still lies in a heap of rubble?"

    Then God reveals the connection between blessing/honoring Him and being blessed/honored by Him: "Think very carefully about your choices.  You have planted a large crop, but your harvest is small...You earn a salary, but the money runs out quickly, as if there are holes in your pocket.  Think very carefully about your choices...You expected to be well rewarded for all your hard work.  But as you see, you are getting back almost nothing..."

    Then God hammers home the big point: "My house has remained in ruins while each of you has been chasing after your own concerns.  This is why heaven above you has held back the dew and the earth has refused to produce crops."

    Samuel's distinguishing of David from Saul comes to mind: "God honors people who honor Him...God wants people after His own heart."

    Again, as Jesus said, "Seek first God's Kingdom...and then God will take care of everything else!"

    I've heard about companies that have "continuous improvement" programs.

    They want their companies to get better and better and better; building upon the best of the past for an even better future.

    That was Haggai's message.

    The old Temple was great: "Are any of you still living who saw how glorious My first house was?"

    God expects the renewed, reconstructed, redeveloped, reborn Temple to be even greater: "You will stand by and watch as the magnificence of this new house will eclipse the magnificence of My first house."

    And here's the punch line: "And in this new house, I will give you peace!"

    There's no staying the same as a child of God.

    We grow better or decline worse.

    We move closer to Him or farther away from Him.

    We build upon the best of the past for a better future or we go to...waste.

    It's like He said through Moses, "Choose life!"

    Specifically, "I've given you two choices today: you can have life with all the good things it brings, or death and all the bad things it brings.  If you do what I've commanded you today and love the Eternal your God; if you live as He wants you to,...then you'll live!...Choose life!"

    I remember that rocking chair as if...

@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Zephaniah

Kopp Disclosure

(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of Zephaniah



    If we're really excited about Jesus as Lord and Savior, we're compelled to worship Him as often as we can with excessively effervescent praise and thanks for His saving graces from here to eternity along with ever-increasing passion to obey Him because He deserves our obedience and it's the only way to tap into His best graces.

    Sadly, there are too many people pretending kinship to Him who aren't really that excited about Him and it shows by their deadly expressionless worship services and lives that are mere winks than robustly regular witnesses; or as Gwen Shaw noted as confirmation of conversion, "You must live the manner of life that reveals to the world that you have an intimate relationship with...[God]..."

    From everything that can be seen, our world, nation, and too many churches don't really believe in God as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior; for if they/we did, they/we would surely order our lives much differently with Him as the focus and filter of everything said and done.

    If God is really to be believed, there are consequences to behaviors honoring Him and dishonoring Him.

    That, of course, is an undeniable thread weaving through the entire fabric of Holy Scripture.

    Zephaniah is no exception.

    Essentially, he says two things.

    First, the day is coming when God will separate the sheep from the goats just like Jesus said in Matthew 25.

    Second, anyone can avoid being on the wrong side of His judgment by getting back to Him before that day arrives.

    Getting back to the first point, the day of judgment is coming. 

    Jesus said no one knows when that day is coming; but that day is coming and we don't want to be caught with our pants down when it comes!

    Zephaniah issues the strong warning about not being on the right side of judgment: "I will wipe away...When I cut off...I will remove...I will use My power against...I will punish...You will hear cries...Sounds of destruction...Everything they value will be taken away...I'm warning you, this day of judgment is right around the corner...Here it comes!...It will be very bitter...You will see what happens when God is furious...You will be overwhelmed with all the trouble and pain - total destruction...I will bring distress on all humanity...Because they have sinned time and again...Don't think any amount of money can save them from the terrible anger of God when that day arrives...He will consume the whole earth in His fiery jealousy, for He is going to expedite the annihilation of every living thing on the earth."

    Let's ask ourselves, "Who really believes that?  What does the world's, America's, churches', and our behaviors say about what we believe about that/Him?

    Zephaniah urged for those who still believe enough to alter their behaviors and escape being burned, "You shameless bunch of people, gather together now and pray.  Do it while there is still time, before all these terrible things happen.  I'm warning you they are beginning to happen..."

    Then he announces the good news that it is still possible to get back to Him before it's too late: "Seek God...Only He can save you...Call out to Him...Pursue what is just...Chase after true humility...Maybe God will hide and protect you from what will happen on that terrible day when His anger is unleashed."

    I think of the fellow who says to his buddy while eating breakfast in a local diner, "I am Napoleon!"  His friend asks, "How do you know?"  He replies, "God told me!"  And as the waitress pours their coffee, she chimes in, "I did not!"

    Our world, America, too many churches, and maybe even...must sound like that to God; for all of the below often act as if all of the above is not watching.

    To such a world, such a country, such churches, and maybe even..., the prophet's voice echoes, "Roll the dice!"

    Buuuuuuut make no mistake about it/Him, the best book revealing our Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior says, summarily, "trust and obey...for there's no other be happy...but to trust and obey..."

    Listen to Zephaniah's good news for those who behave like they believe in Him: "God is standing right here among you...He is the champion who will rescue you...He will joyfully celebrate over you...He says, 'Don't be sad anymore...On that day, I will gather all of you together for one big homecoming...Right before your eyes, I will restore to you all that you have lost, and your lives will be full again.'"

    Praise the Lord!

    Yes, praise the Lord!

    It's/He's the only way not to be left behind when that day comes.

@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Habakkuk

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of Habakkuk



    This world has so many predators.

    Habakkuk understood how we feel.

    It was about 600 years before Jesus showed up and Habakkuk looked around and saw a nation that was supposed to be dedicated to God that was corrupt and filled with all kinds of injustices: bad leaders, bad citizens, and bad behaviors.

    Habakkuk was bewildered and befuddled by what theology calls the theodicy or "justice of God" question (viz., "How can a just God allow so many injustices, insults to His holiness, and injuries to His people?"): "How long must I cry for help and You don't seem to listen or care?  There's so much violence and You don't save us from it.  Why do I have to see so much bad stuff?  Why do You tolerate so much evil?  It's getting worse all the time.  Justice is perverted!  There is no justice!"

    Sounds familiar.

    Making matters worse, God tells Habakkuk that it's gonna get worse: "I am rousing the Chaldeans...They are fierce and terrifying...They are determined to wipe you out."

    We can almost hear the prophet, "Sorry I asked."

    The nation is riddled by idolatry, injustice, and violence; and now they're about to be terrorized by the Chaldeans/Babylonians.

    In other words, Habakkuk saw how awful everything had become and complained about it to God; and then God tells him that it's gonna get worse!

    So Habakkuk shouts, "Why?  Why do You persecute people who are trying?  Why do You persecute people who are more than less on Your side?  What's up with that?"

    Anyone relating yet?


    Bad economy.

    Bad guys at the borders.

    Bad behaviors.

    Bad leadership.

    Bad citizenship.

    Lots of baaaaaaad stuff!

    How can God let this happen?

    Why does God let this happen?

    Doesn't He care?

    I've felt that way.

    Have you?

    That's why we can relate so well to Habakkuk and why Habakkuk can relate so well to us; because he had the same questions over 2600 years ago.

    For all of us, he complained about it and demanded an answer from God: "I will wait and watch to see what He says about my complaint!"



    Not very religious.

    But very relational; as in child to parent.

    God answered: "The vision awaits it's time...Wait for it...It will come...In the meantime, the righteous will live by faith.'

    Notice God does not answer the why question: "Why do bad things happen to people who are trying to honor God?'

    Surely, He follows up with woes or watch outs to the bad guys who He promises will catch it sooner or later and definitely in the end.

    Again, He does not answer the why question.

    He tells us how to live in the meantime.

    Faith: "The righteous shall live by faith."



    I'm not talking about two-feet-planted-firmly-in-the-air superstition or golly-gee-really-hope-He-comes-throughism.

    Absolutely not!

    I'm talking about the kind of faith that says with the Psalmist, "I was young.  Now I am older.  And in all of my time from younger to older, I have never seen God abandon His people.  He has always come through for us sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end."

    That's faith!

    Faith built on facts!

    We can trust God because God has proven He can be trusted!

@#$% be continued...


Blessings and Love!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Make Love Not War

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Make Love Not War!

    I'm resurrecting that theme.


    Too many people are sooooooo cranky, contentious, combative, cruel, and other pejorative traits beginning with the same letter.

    Sooooooo whenever I'm around 'em, I'm gonna listen a while and then say, "Make Love Not War!"



    You're right.

    I didn't come up with that.

    While one of the two Beatles with a socially responsible brain made it popular with Mind Games in 1973, it goes back to the 60s and was used often by those opposed to what proved to be a very senseless and wasteful use of American lives in Vietnam.

    Parenthetically, I often wonder if history is repeating itself with the new fools in D.C. when it comes to...

    Anyway, proving some good things come out of Chicago, "Make Love Not War" buttons were popularized in the windy city as they were distributed by the thousands for the Mother's Day Peace March in 1965.

    I think that's when it became really, uh, maybe, for some, popular; or, minimally, recognized.

    Essentially, it kinda meant sex is better than fighting and peace is better than war.

    I agree.

    Or as Benjamin Button would say, "Absolutely!"



    I'll never forget the redneck in WSNC who came up to me after worship in the mid-80s and complained, "You preach too much about love and Jesus."

    Response: "I didn't know I was supposed to preach about anything else."

    While some can say I'm wrong while America clings to its decreasing liberties, that's how I've always preached and will preach until death or assassination.

    Make no mistake about it, I'm all for the original meaning of the phrase.

    Sex within its Biblical boundaries is, uh, great!

    O.K., for you heathens, it's not bad outside of...

    It's certainly better than those c words above.

    Yet, I've decided to use the phrase in a slightly more spiritual way.

    Again, while being all for the original meaning, I'm more and more and more into the really original meaning of love through the eyes of Jesus: praying and working for the highest good for others regardless of who, what, where, when, or even why without the need or expectation for response, regard, or reward.


    Tozer: "The church's mightiest influence is felt when she is different from the world in which she lives."

    In other words, I'm gonna start saying "Make Love Not War" whenever the witting or unwitting accomplices of darkness start behaving in concert with those c words more than Christ.



    I don't expect everyone to get it/Him.

    Obviously, too many people remain frigidly polemical.

    Read that again.


    I have no illusions about waging a successful "Make Love Not War" campaign in society or even church where folks should know/act better.
    It's gonna take a lot more than some pseudo-pandering-to-selfishness-masquerading-as-Christianity mantra like the power of positive thinking, possibility thinking, name-it-and-claim-it-and-declare-it drooling nonsense.

    It's gonna take...Jesus.

    It's gonna take His kinda love: invitational, socio-economically inclusive, welcoming, merciful, forgiving, restoring, selfless, sacrificial, compassionate, caring, and...

    Catch the drift?

    If not, open your Bible and start reading the red letters.



Blessings and Love!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Christianity

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Scratching the Surface



(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Christianity)

What is Christianity all about?

That’s simple.


How do you know what it means to believe in Him and behave like you believe in Him?

That’s simple.

Read the red letters in the Bible – the words of Jesus Himself.

Where should I start?

That’s simple.

Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What’s the difference between those gospelers or good-news-reporters?

That’s simple.

Not much.

They complement but never contradict each other.

Lots of details in Matthew and Luke.  John goes deeper.  I like how Mark gets to the point(s) so quickly; especially when it comes to what it means to behave like you believein Jesus: “…immediately…they followed Him.”

Is Jesus difficult to understand?

That’s simple.

Jesus is difficult to understand for people who have “ears that don’t hear” and “eyes that don’t see.”  

But, no, Jesus is not difficult to understand unless you’re dense by design or decide to shut your eyes and close your ears.

The report: “When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were astonished…for He was teaching them as one who had authority…”

What does that mean?

That’s simple.

Question: “Who does He think He is…God?”

Answer: “Absolutely!”

What kind of authority does He have?

That’s simple.

Jesus, as God, is the gatekeeper of heaven.

The good news is, as He said so many times and Paul told Timothy as His purpose, “God wants everybody to be saved.”

What does it mean to be saved?

That’s simple.

He said, “I have come so that you may have life and have it abundantly…Anyone who believes in Me will never die.”

How can I be saved?

That’s simple.

“Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.”

Does being saved make any difference?

That’s simple.

He said, “If you love Me…[another way of saying that is, ‘If you’re saved’…]…you will do what I’ve told you to do.”

Paul explained, essentially, if we are saved, we show signs/proof/evidence like those character traits listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

Again, Jesus: “If you love Me, you will love like Me.”

What am I expected to do with what I know about Him as Lord and Savior?

That’s simple.

He said, “Go everywhere and tell everyone about Me!”

Now go deeper by reading what comes before and after those red letters.

Are you still looking for a different way to do church?
Are you tired of the SOSO RELIGION?
Are you put off by posers in pews, politics, and pulpits?
Are you searching for something/Someone
real, honest, timely, and true to…?

Try our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main!
(Belvidere, Illinois)

Sundays at 7:20 and 10:00 a.m.


Blessings and Love!