Sunday, January 12, 2014
One of the things that I liked about Richard Nixon was he resigned before destroying America.
I also liked how he often said changing our minds is a sign of strength not weakness; noting how he often changed his mind if warranted by fresh facts and new insights.
Taking his advice, I voted for him once; just like I did for Jimmy Carter.
Enthusiastically, I joined the majority of Americans who elected them to first terms in the White House; and then redirected my votes as they ran for second terms.
It brings to mind...
I'm more messed up than anyone who's ever been President.
Come to think of it, realizing the time that I've spent far exceeds the time that I've got left, I've been amending some words as I approach the table: "O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, we thank You for mercies past, present, and to come."
I know I really need Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Including my own, I know I fall short of everyone's expectations as a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, pastor, presbyter, professor, police chaplain, and...you name it which you can if you know me.
Without question and with increasing enthusiasm without equivocation, I praise God for Jesus my/our Lord and Savior.
While I think I'm closer to being who my antagonists advertise than my mom's gracious delusions, I've always identified with the apostle: "I don't do the good that I want to do. I do the bad that I don't want to do."
I can still remember Bert Atwood's words back in seminary ringing sooooooo true for people like me: "No matter how good we are or become, we'll never be good enough not to need Jesus as Lord and Savior."
I'm reminded of Verne Clifford, an old farmer near the Delaware Water Gap on the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, whose prayer before a Sunday dinner has been repeated countless times since in my dailies: "I thank You, Lord, for forgiving my past sins, present sins, and the sins that I will commit in the future...through Jesus in whose name I pray."
Sadly, I've spent too many years pretending to be better than God knows I know He knows I've ever been.
I've been such a hypocrite.
Instead of admitting that I'm as or probably more messed up than most other pulpiteers and pewsitters, I've often posed fidelity for public consumption while insulting God's holiness and injuring His people; bringing to mind a rhetorical challenge from those closest to me that has often driven me to my knees: "Why don't you practice what you preach?"
While don't ever recall not knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior because of faithful parents and grandparents, recalling Timothy's experience, I do know I was regenerated (i.e., born again again) during my time with Eugene and three covenant brothers in Montana back in October 2011.
Parenthetically, I really don't know what happened. It wasn't really anything that was said or read or... It/He just happened. The only thing that makes sense to me about that time is what Jesus said to Nicodemus: "You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the Wind of God, the Spirit of God."
I haven't been able to get enough of God ever since - through worship and Bible reading and prayer and sacrament and music and...
I want more and more and more of Him...
Though I know He knows I know He knows I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Him after spending too many years in books about the book and posing something/Someone that I didn't really, really, really know personally, I've never felt more convinced, calm, courageous, and enthusiastic about/for sharing Jesus.
While I've been writing and lecturing and teaching and preaching about Christianity for years, I realize my relationship with Jesus was much more academic and professional and Matthew 15/23ish than real and authentic and personal.
I knew lots about Him; but I didn't really know Him that closely or intimately or really.
God knows I know He knows I know, like Heinrich Bullinger exclaimed, He worked in spite of me for almost four decades of professional pastoral ministry; and He knows I know He knows I know sooooooo much of it/me was for show.
As bikers like to say, if I have to explain that to you, you wouldn't get it anyway. You'd be like me before October 2011.
Not that I'm that much better now.
After sooooooo many years, I'm just scratching the surface of what it means to love Him by following Him by loving like Him.
I'm coming clean and trying/praying to stay clean.
I've got a long way to go; and, while calmer about it than ever before, I feel like I'm trying to make up for wasted time.
Maybe that's why I keep telling people that, barring my Grandpa Jacob's cancer genes or assassination, retirement ain't on the radar. He knows I know He knows I know I will not stop looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Him in praise and gratitude for what He has done for me and what He has done for others like me and what He can do for anyone who opens the door of her/his heart at His knock.
I'm having too much faith and fun to quit any time soon!
Truly, truly, truly, I will die before I retire.
Again, I'm still messed up.
As Paul would say, I'm still working out my salvation; or praying and trying to behave like I say I believe.
I would like to share three of the ways that the Holy Spirit has helped me to start cleaning up.
First, I ask/expect His cleansing/deliverance in a Psalm 51 and Matthew 6:13 kinda way: "Have mercy on me, O God...Blot out my transgressions...Wash me...Cleanse me...Purge me...Teach me...Deliver me...Create in me a clean heart...Renew a right spirit within me...Lead me not into temptation...Deliver me from the evil one..."
Whenever I have prayed that specifically about anything at anytime involving anyone, God has helped me to stay clean.
Second, I pray/try to live in a John 3:19-21 kinda way: "This is the judgment: the light has come into the world...Everyone who hates the light does not come to the light lest their deeds be exposed...Whoever does what is true comes to the light..."
One of the ways that I protect myself from sneaking around and diving into bad stuff is by letting everyone know my passwords are Kopper, 1952, and drkopp.
Though drkopp is in small letters, it expresses my pre-rebirthed Matthew 23ish professional clergy arrogance; while acknowledging the revelation of my passwords doesn't affect money that I don't have anyway anywhere with anyone and is just exposed so I don't expose myself to things that could insult Him and injure His children.
Third, I pray/try to get closer and closer and closer to Him through spiritual disciplines like worship, Bible reading, sacrament, fasting, and so on in the realities of Psalm 22:3 and Galatians 2:20: "God inhabits the worship/praises of His people...It is no longer I who live, but Jesus who lives in/through me..."
I'm reminded of the pastor who said to me, "I can't understand why my church is so unfriendly. I have been teaching them about how to be a friendly church."
My response: "You can't give away what you ain't got for yourself and you can't be friendly like a follower of Jesus should be until you're so intimate with Him that you start acting like Him in a Psalm 22:3 and Galatians 2:20 kinda way."
Simply, the proof/evidence/signs/fruit of being close to Jesus are preceded by being close to Jesus.
Or putting it another way, if you is, you is; and if you ain't, you ain't.
People who are close to Jesus act like it/Him - increasingly more than increasingly less.
Again, I'm still messed up; but I am getting better.
I'm coming clean and praying/trying to stay clean.
I'm not saying my way is the best way.
I'm saying His way for you is the best way.
Of course, before you criticize my way of coming clean and praying/trying to stay clean, I'm trusting you have heard His way for you: so you're not hearing Moody's echo when criticized for how he did evangelism: "I prefer the way I'm doing it to the way you're not doing it."
Blessings and Love!