Monday, November 25, 2013
"God saw the wickedness...and it broke His heart."
Because our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois is growing up, I skip a Sunday every now and then to release charismata and not feed the kinda pagan idolatries that poison and paralyze churches in a Matthew 15 and 23 kinda way.
To really enable the second clause of that first sentence-paragraph, we don't mention/announce/broadcast or even Facebook when the old man ain't in town; and if anyone dares ask why, well, uh, if I gotta explain that to ya, it means ya wouldn't get it/Him/His anyhows.
I don't skip worship with the body; as I worship where He leads and then listen to what I won't miss back home via www.bnnsrado.com.
I praise the Lord for Him compelling me to unleash our gifted messengers for the glory, praise, and laud of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and praise Him for the opportunity to worship with our extended family if you know what He means in a John 17 kinda way.
Anyway, I skipped last Sunday.
I went to the "traditional" service - Ever wonder how He feels about our idiotically navel-gazing classifications of worship as "traditional" or "contemporary" or "emerged" or "submerged" or whatever as if He didn't inspire all music that honors Him and helps align hearts with Him and His? Who do we think we are to diss what He has designed/created? Dang, we can be sooooooo arrogant! - of a really, really, really fabulously well-to-do-heavily-endowed big high steeple cathedral in a bigger city.
The bulletins were perfect.
The pipe organ was enormous; and the music was exquisitely gothic in a classical kinda way.
The pastor wore beautifully costly vestments.
He looked soooooo pretty.
Everybody who helped lead the liturgy looked like ads for Brooks Brothers or Banks or Taylor buuuuuuut not Target or WalMart or, gasp, ugh, Goodwill, SA, or...
No funkily colored hair.
No one under 125 years of age; except, uh, for me and the pulpiteer.
Annnnnnnnd not more than 25, including platformers, in the cavernous sanctuary built for 500 or so.
I didn't ask; but wondered if they, uh, like it, uh, their way.
I think they do.
I think lots of churches are like them/that.
The message was really good.
Touching on Psalm 100 every now and then, he talked about traditions that are good and worth preserving and traditions that are worn and tired and should be discarded as inefficacious to attracting, uh, younger generations to Jesus.
Everybody smiled and giggled when he talked about traditions to keep.
They felt sooooooo warmed.
Nobody smiled or giggled when he talked about traditions to...
A few squirmed while most tuned out.
Nobody looked around, I guess, for there was nobody, uh, really to, uh, see...except for themselves.
Jesus must have been joking in those quotes attributed to Him about...inviting, welcoming, including, loving, uh, everybody without respect to...the idiotically navel-gazing...
But, of course, just like what He said to the rich young ruler of Matthew 19 juxtaposed to Matthew 25, He didn't really mean it...
Or did He?
From what I saw on Sunday and what I see..., nah!
We break His heart when we don't invite everybody, welcome everybody, include everybody, and love everybody.
The Bible is bigger than our favorite parts.
He said to invite, welcome, include, and love everybody with no discriminations of color, class, or culture.
That's why Hans wants us to reclaim rainbows!
We break His heart when we separate and segregate.
We break His heart when we are poster children for contradicting 1 Corinthians 13.
We break His heart when we break fellowship over anything other than esteeming His saving Lordship in Jesus by the book.
We break His heart when our attitudes express ingratitude manifested by our traditional exclusions that thinly veil a selfishness that contradicts everything exemplified by Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture.
Truth is too many of today's churches are attitudes of ingratitude by their meaningless motions only coincidentally related to what He said shows signs of getting it/Him.
He died for everybody!
He rose for everybody!
He reigns for everybody!
Who do we think we are to...?
Quickly, let's reverse fields!
A young Mexican woman told me how thankful she is to know Someone who completely loves her and doesn't want to exclude her.
She kept repeating Psalm 103...
She's so thankful to know Jesus loves her...here and now and hereafter...
She's so thankful to know people who really know Jesus who love her...here and now and always...
She's so thankful to live in America and wants everybody to enjoy the kinda benefits that Americans enjoy...
She's so thankful to God for all of His blessings in her life that she's compelled to invite, welcome, include, and love...everybody...into those benefits...
She has an attitude of gratitude.
She understands that really thankful people express their thanksgiving by inviting, welcoming, including, and loving...Jesus by loving like Jesus!
She gets the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
To all who get it/Him, Happy Thanksgiving!!!
If not, not.
Maybe that's what Black Friday is really all about.
Blessings and Love!
Friday, November 22, 2013
"Come to Me, all/everyone...and I will take care of you."
"How often would I have gathered your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
and you were not willing!"
O.K., let's stop with the proof-texting of prejudices.
Until you've integrated Matthew 7:1-6, Luke 10:25-37, Romans 3:21-31, and a plethora of other texts into a contextually Biblical comprehension of our Lord's invitational, welcoming, including, and agapeish weltanschaunng, don't throw your out-of-context-to-indulge-your-extra-Biblical-fenced-table-ideology use of 1 Corinthians 11 at His children of all kinds, colors, classes, and cultures.
Honest hermeneutics ain't personal.
Prophetic is more like it/Him.
David was about 4 or 5 when he came forward to "take" the sacrament by intinction.
That was back in the bad old days when more than less mainline churches were into proscriptions more than permissions in a pathetically Matthew 15:8-9 kinda way.
Knowing I was gonna catch everything but heaven from some church ladies for it - "Did youuuuuuuu know yooooooour son toooooook communion today?" - I asked him after the service, "David, why did you take communion?"
His excited answer: "Jesus came into my heart!"
Lots better than...
Norby caught everyone's attention last Wednesday at Bible study.
That happens a lot with Norby lately.
He's been spending so much more intimate time with the Lord in the book than in books about the book that he's become a rushing stream of insights.
He's like Elihu bursting at the seams to tell the three stooges all about knowing Him and making Him known by the book.
Anyway, he said, "Some people go through the motions without any meaning...and it's good for nothing."
1 Corinthians 13 crossed our minds.
Annnnnnnd it caused me to think of fenced tables juxtaposed to the first section of this KD if you know what He means.
I have been crying so much lately.
It started while planning a memorial service for a beloved saint of the Kingdom.
For reasons not worth my speculation, a neighboring pastor was invited to assist.
While I've always liked him and praise God for his witness to the saving Lordship of Jesus by the book, I have a really, really, really big problem with his church fencing the table from people like, uh, you and, uh, me.
Annnnnnnd before anyone says he's just being obedient to his franchise, c'mon!
Let's bring a little Luther into this - our consciences must be captive to Holy Scripture more than ideology - not to mention who gets priority or first dibs in an Actsual Christianity kinda way!
Again, take a look at Matthew 15 and 23.
I started tearing up while talking to our organist about it as we prepared for the service.
She would be fenced/denied/rejected as unworthy if she showed up during their services.
I wept as I thought of every one of our family of faith members on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois being fenced/denied/rejected as unworthy.
Annnnnnnd here I am/was making allowances for him to assist in the memorial service reaching a climax in His saving promises: "Come to Me, all/everyone..."
I wondered why he would...if he wouldn't...
Not worth my speculation.
Yet generating more and more and more tears.
Jesus, please forgive me for not being willing to cause a scene by letting someone assist who would fence/deny/reject...
Father, forgive me for knowingly...
Father, forgive him for he knows not...
Our administrative assistant consoled me, "You're being bigger than..."
I wish I shared her confidence.
"If salt loses its..."
I am overwhelmed by sadness...generated by my disobedience.
Who am I to exhort fainthearts to become bravehearts when I am...?
I need a Savior.
Thank You, Lord Jesus!
By Your Holy Spirit, help/compel me to do better next time.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Picking up some pills and cream for the metaphorical finger arthritically aching prompted a personal interrogative.
Am I old?
Unlike you know who, everybody can see my birth certificate reveals...
Buuuuuuut am I old?
Folks comfortable with judging can let me know.
Do I wanna be old?
He just blessed me with four disks of "Riding Hard" music for mounting Return2 and making like Wyatt.
If you don't get that last sentence, I can't explain it to you.
Anyway, I'm with Who about what happens when you're old and why I ain't ever gonna let it happen: "I hope I die before I get old."
Go to the video up there.
Ain't gonna let it happen to me.
Loss of wonder.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and...don't bring abandonment to wonder, love, and praise anymore.
Brittle wineskin without room or even desire for more...
Hearing loss when it comes to Him: "Behold, I make all things new...even..."
A friend who is a few years older than, uh, moi, asked, "Do you think we're getting old?"
Reply: "When we don't wanna go on those big rides in August anymore, then we'll be old."
I just wanna ride!
Senior signing in my 8th grade yearbook: "May you live as long as you want to and want to as long as you live!"
Jesus: "I have come so you can have life...and have life to the max!"
That's the RRRKV of the text.
Truth is I ain't ever gonna be old.
Ric knows the music just hints at the heart's tuning.
It has nothing to do with birth certificates.
It has nothing to do with trips to Walgreen's.
It has everything to do with wineskins.
It has everything to do with Who fills 'em.
Sooooooo if you're old, the only medicine that will help revive ya is...
Blessings and Love!
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Scratching the Surface of 1 & 2 Thessalonians
When people start talking/debating about the when and what and where of the rapture, second coming, and other particulars about end times, I tend to shift off into thoughts about the pros and cons of cavity backs versus blades, the best octane for my pony, and why I still eat buffalo wings after Friday night football games when I know I'm gonna pay for it into the wee hours of the next day.
I guess that's because the why of it all has always been enough for me; as Paul wrote in these two letters: "He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction, forever separated from the Lord...when He comes to receive glory and praise from His holy people. And you will be among those praising Him on that day, for you believed what we testified about Him."
Really, when we think too much about it, there's been so much disagreement about the particulars while there's been unanimous consent about the end time being the best news for those who've sided with Him. From everything that He's told us in the book, it will be heavenly for people who've trusted Him as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Again, I go back to Grandpa Kopp: "Don't miss the forest for the trees."
I'm not saying it's bad to try to figure out the particulars in Mark 13, Matthew 24, Revelation, and other apocalyptic texts.
I'm just saying it's better to know we can disagree on the particulars because the big and best message is we're gonna be just...great...in the end.
These two letters look at that/His picture.
Paul confirms the other witnesses in the final chapter of the end being preceded by all hell breaking out: "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
All of that on top of all of the horrific stuff mentioned in Mark 13, Matthew 24, Revelation, and other apocalyptic texts that indicate the horrific stuff will get worse and worse and worse in frequency and intensity until it's all over and the eternal Kingdom is established; noting John's description as the most comprehensively clear, compelling, and conclusive: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth...I saw the holy city...I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with people. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away...And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'"
Again, I don't understand the need to catalogue all of the particulars of when and what and where because trusting God includes trusting God for all things from here to eternity.
Candidly, I get headaches when I try to figure out all of those particulars or listen to someone trying to figure out all of those particulars.
Besides, I think, and I may be wrong on this but, admittedly, while I'm just scratching the surface, I am scratching and even someone as tight with God as Paul confessed the distance between us and Him when it comes to that kinda eschatological stuff: "I really don't need to write to you about how and when all this will happen...For we know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly..."
And while I know folks who are really, really, really into trying to figure out the particulars of the end times will be offended by anyone bringing this up - and you can go to almost any bookstore and finds lots of books on the particulars that seem to ignore this - Jesus, who apparently has a lot more divine insight into all of this than we'll ever have no matter how much He loves us, said, "No one knows of that day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows."
So, again, let's not miss the forest for the trees; or the big and best picture in favor of the ultimately insignificant particulars beyond our humanly finite comprehension that seem to stress out too many people and keep them from the joy of knowing we're gonna be just heavenly in the end.
So, quickly, let's review the big picture.
Bad things are coming in increasing frequency and intensity as history draws to a close as the preface to paradise for everyone who really knows and loves Him; meaning why worry about the small stuff that won't last when He's already taken care of the big stuff that is forever: "We are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven - Jesus...He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment...The Lord has decided to save us. He died for us so that we can live with Him forever, whether we are dead or alive at the time of His return. So encourage each other and build each other up..."
That certainty causes us, as Paul wrote in these letters, to worship, work, and witness - live - with the prayer, ambition, and goal of becoming holier and holier and holier to Him in gratitude for this gospel: "God wants you to be holy...may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus comes again..."
A favorite story comes to mind; capturing the peace in the heart, soul, mind, and body of believers who may not know all of the particulars but see the big picture.
During a terrible storm at sea, a little boy sat calmly on deck. A woman asked, "Aren't you afraid?" The boy answered, "Why should I be afraid of the storm? My father is the captain of the ship!"
Why should we be afraid of...anything or anyone?
Our Father is the captain of the ship!
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!
Thursday, November 14, 2013
"Reverence for God in the present work is preserved by capitalizing
pronouns, including You, Your, and Yours, which refer to Him."
Preface to NKJV
1. Before reading the quick hits below as we revisit RR, please read the entire column by clicking on "Reclaiming Rainbows" in the right column under November issues.
2. The responses to "Reclaiming Rainbows" have been fast and not furious except for one person who means well but cannot distinguish the will of God from the mirror's reflection. Indeed, some of the challenging to hysterical responses to RR from the left and right seem related to my inability to rationalize their extra-Biblical ideologies by the book; noting the apparent inability for the extremes to receive the loving inclusions despite rite proscription in a Psalm 25:10 kinda way. Simply, it's the problem peculiar to the extremes of revising Genesis: "So man created God in his own image; in the image of man, man created God."
3. It has been sad to see the right object to the inclusions of our grace-filled Lord and sad to see the left insist that loving everybody must include presiding at a rite proscribed by Holy Scripture; reminding me that neither extreme will allow for genuine love to include all people while proscribing some behavior. The left and right share an arrogance of feeling there's no need for improvement in how they behave as reflective of belief in God as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture. In my estimation, and I pledge public confession and repentance if I am wrong by contradiction to Jesus and Holy Scripture, living in God's neighborhood is knowing God loves us just the way we are but too much to leave us just the way we are.
4. I have been frustrated by the Biblical ignorance/defiance of the left and right in excluding God's included (right) while insisting on what God has precluded (left); saying, essentially, "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say buuuuuuuut I think..." That kinda arrogance from the extremes just overwhelms me to intellectual numbness. It's the movement from imago Dei to imago ego in our increasingly naval-gazing civil and ecclesiastical cultures.
5. Yeeeeeeet, I apologize to my dear friend for running with his vision about the pins before getting this clarification: "I would not have come up with the idea of adding the word reclaim to the rainbow. I think the rainbow can do without that. I think if a few million Christians would wear a rainbow lapel pin, with love for all in their hearts, it will eventually be noticed here and there...give gazillions of opportunities to tell others about God's gracious promise to the entire world...We will be able to talk about God's grace and demonstrate His love..." I agree. I confess my sin of adding reclaim without getting his consent and also how it would repel rather than invite conversation, prayer, and the ultimate goal of experiencing the fullness of His graces. Frankly, I see how that has worked with my pony Return2. People ask me what the name means and then...
6. Of course, there are those, especially from the middle - You know the ones who are moderately committed to some things and Someone for fear of offending bravehearts with their fainthearts and not being liked irrespective of Acts 5:29! - who cause me to recall Moody being criticized - I think by Presbyterians - for how he did evangelism. He said, "I prefer how I do it to how you don't do it." He also said something that both extremes may want to consider to convert their ideologies to fidelities: "The only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep it always under the tap." I think moderates make Him puke in a Revelation 3:1-6; 14-22 kinda way. That's why I think Biblical Christianity is not left, right, or moderate. It's, uh, Christian by the book.
7. Years ago, I was attacked by someone for saying I cannot preside at a same-sex wedding while being a passionate advocate for gay civil rights: "What if one of your sons were gay?" My response: "Uh, I don't understand your question. I will love my sons regardless. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with loving my sons. Even if my sons were gay and professing marital relations, I would love them, love their partners, and receive them just like I would receive sons engaged in marital relations more reflective of Biblical Christianity. I get it from Jesus who loves you and me like that. I can totally love anyone; but I don't have to appreciate every part of their behavior. So, really, I don't understand how your question relates to my sons if they were gay. I'd just love them; even while not agreeing with a part of their lifestyles. But I'd love them any way."
Sooooooo I expect to add a rainbow to what I hang around my neck without the word on it despite my commitment to reclaiming rainbows by the book.
Hans' approach is better than my first response to his vision.
I think there's a lesson in that for all of us - left, right, middle, and...Christian.
There's always room for improvement.
"Behold, I make all things new...even..."
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
"I am giving you a sign as evidence of My eternal covenant
with you...I have placed My rainbow in the clouds."
The rainbow is a symbol of the mutual fidelity in our covenant with God.
You know the story.
Psst, mainliners can find it in Genesis 6-9.
Unlike Sunday School memories of the story and symbol, the rainbow has become a popular, politically correct, rallying insistence of "more light" than Biblical revelation juxtaposed to divinely designed human sexuality and marriage.
You know the story.
Psst, if you've been living in the ozone layer of reality and don't know it, just google rainbow.
Well, while thawing out and meeting with Hans in Davenport, Iowa last Thursday after 135 miles on my pony Return2, he suggested it's time for people who love God by the book to reclaim rainbows.
Then he asked if I would wear a rainbow pin if he bought one for me.
For the first time in a long time, I was speechless.
Eventually, I told him that I kinda like the idea buuuuuuut...
A day later, I was inspired/indigested - You be the judge if it suits ya! - to record "Marriage in the Family of Faith" which you can read by going to the right column of this site and clicking it on.
Two days later, I wrote to Hans: "This will be quick as I must head off to our first service. I have been praying about your vision about 'reclaiming' the rainbow as a symbol of the mutual fidelity in our covenant with God. While I will be away for the next two days for an anniversary getaway, I will write about this...and start a movement with you!"
Sooooooo I'm asking anyone by this KD who has more money than they need, which means God provided it for His purposes, to send tax deductible gifts to First Presbyterian Church (221 N. Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008) designated for the "Reclaiming Rainbows" movement sooooooo we can, uh, reclaim rainbows as we find someone who will make rainbow pins with the word "Reclaim" on 'em for anyone who wants to, uh, reclaim the symbol by the book.
Parenthetically, after last night's deacons and elders meetings at First in which our session adopted unanimously "Marriage in the Family of Faith" (Hint!), two immediately interesting developments: (1) a deacon wrote to me after the meetings and said we can also be a distribution point for bumper stickers that already carry the message of Hans' vision; and (2) our clerk of session said he will buy a rainbow license plate frame for my pony. Uh, I'm into the first and thinking/praying/pondering/fretting the second!
Sooooooo if you're being nudged to share your $ to help get this movement started, well, uh, uh, uh,...get going!
I know Hans and I are gonna catch everything but heaven for this, so please indulge a few confessions.
1. Though I'm a heterosexual who has sinned often, confessed, and repented, I'm not a homophobe.
2. I've inherited, hired, ordained, and ministered well with gays for nearly four decades; just as I've inherited, hired, ordained, and ministered well with gossipers, thieves, liars, adulterers, idolaters, posers, hypocrites, and other miscreants of every kind like me who need Jesus as saving Lord no more nor no less than anyone else.
3. My decision to embrace Hans' vision as well as not preside/participate in same sex marriage rites has nothing to do with my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual advocacy of totally equal civil rights for gays along with their totally equal medical benefits, pension-sharing for domestic/civil partners/unions, and the outlawing of vocational discrimination related to sexual orientation.
I just can't, uh, openly go against my, uh, religion; and just because something's popular, politically correct, and lawful doesn't convince/compel me to contradict God's will as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.
Joshua 24 and Luther come to mind.
Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei!
Blessings and Love!