Thursday, February 27, 2014

Forest and Frontier

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    The Old Gray Dog is the most clear and concise yet comprehensive "Reformed" theologian known to me.

    He understands, advocates, and articulates ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei more than most professors, pulpiteers, and pewsitters.

    You can learn more about his witness to Him by going to the right column and clicking on The Westminster Fellowship.

    You'll also want to click on and watch/listen for a new internet radio broadcast from him in the very near future.


    Having said that, I have often confessed a few things to/about him.

    First, I am a theological BB gun compared to his heavy artillery; which is why I urge you to tap into Him through him.

    Second, being a PCUSAer, noting anyone who takes Jesus by the book seriously will get this, I've found it sooooooo stunningly sad that it's sooooooo hard to get too many mainline denominationalists into Jesus by the book; meaning it's pret' near impossible to move to the meat when folks ain't even been nursed by/on the milk.

    Mixing metaphors, I've found it to be pret' near impossible to take folks to the frontier when they haven't even stepped into the forest.

    It's hard to disciple those who haven't been evangelized to conversion.


    That really hit home when Chuck pulled out a stunningly sad statistic for me.

    He said 80% of America does not know Jesus as personal Lord and Savior; and that while mainliners like to talk and talk and talk about saving the planet from global whatever, we might want to consider saving souls as a prerequisite to a broader understanding/passion of/for stewardship.

    People who are saved want to save everyone/everything.

    Then I got the stats below.


    Then I preached from John's letters about ecclesiastical hypocrites who say they love God while hating others for Christ's sake.

    Then I...


    Stats are notoriously imprecise.

    But if Chuck and Barna's are anywhere...

    Here's the point.

    We gotta get folks into the forest before we take 'em to the frontier.

    I think it's a great idea to save the planet from fossil fuels and aerosol cans; yet I know people won't be really concerned about His creation until they have an intimate relationship with Him as Creator/Sustainer/Savior.

    First comes an authentic relationship with the Lord.

    Then comes an acting out of that relationship in caring for others and everything else in His creation.

    That's why sooooooo many churches are sooooooo messed up these days and enabling Chuck and Barna's stats.

    We can't get right with everyone/everything else until we get right with Him.

    We gotta step into the forest before crossing into the frontier.



Blessings and Love!

1500 CLERGY LEAVE PASTORAL MINISTRY EACH MONTH!  Source: The Barna Research Group.

Many clergy within this group leave pastoral ministry due to the Clergy Killer Phenomenon.  This phenomenon is affecting our ministries, congregations and communities.  Day after day, call after call, The Ecumenical Educational Council receives the alarming news, “I am simply unable to proceed in my ministry.” 
After several screenings of the documentary BETRAYED: The Clergy Killer’s DNA, discussions with theologians, sociologists, psychologists, pastors and religious scholars, The Ecumenical Educational Council selected BETRAYED: The Clergy Killer’s DNA the most important Christian documentary of 2013. We recommend every pastor to study this documentary.


Since the release of BETRAYED in late 2013, we have been contacted by hundreds of clergy, from all denominations, expressing their gratitude for what they call “a film, long overdue” and “the most important Christian movie since The Passion of the Christ.” 

We recommend that all Christians, pastors and clergy, church leaders and church members, see this movie so they will develop an increased alertness in order to expose and neutralize the clergy killer phenomenon before it destroys more clergy.

Examined in the documentary are the following eye opening statistics:
70% of pastors report a continuing struggle with depression.  Hartford Institute for Religious Research
90% of clergy in all denomination will not stay in ministry long enough to reach the age of retirement.  U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics
50% of pastors indicate that they would leave the ministry if they had another way of making a living.  Hartford Institute for Religious Research
61% of congregations have forced a pastor to leave. Christianity Today Magazine
83% of clergy spouses want the spouse to leave pastoral ministry. Hartford Institute for Religious Research
80% of pastors reported they receive no support from peers. Hartford Institute of Religious Research

I pray you will join the growing number of men and women who are finding this film to be of paramount importance for healthy congregational life, and a tremendous resource for overworked clergy who are often targeted by clergy killers.
A critique of the documentary by Rev. Dr. Jason Miller and a synopsis of the film follows below.  Please support this extraordinary film.  Post this urgent message to your facebook.  Inform your congregation and fellow clergy about this most important educational film.  It is, in our studied opinion, a defining chapter in the life of the Church.
In His Service,

Rev. Dr. David Moreland

Friday, February 21, 2014

Guernica and the PCUSA

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    Dr. Farmer was the director of an egghead program in college that drafted me.

    He introduced me to Pablo Picasso.

    A favorite story.

    Criticized for his abstractions, the artist said, "When I was 12, I could paint like Raphael.  It took years before I could paint like this."

    Reminds me of Vonnegut who said something like this, "Once you know all of the rules of grammar, you can break them to communicate."

    Let me put it another way.

    If you want to understand a clock, don't look at the hands.

    Look deeper!

    Anyway, recently, somebody asked me to describe how I write/speak.

    I repeated the above.

    Of course, I've never had a best-selling book and nobody pays attention to what I say; so maybe...


    Getting back to Dr. Farmer and Picasso, I'd often accompany him when he lectured on the artist's famous painting Guernica.

    You can google its history.

    Succinctly, it portrayed the barbarity of war through wrenching symbols with the Nazi bombardment of Guernica, Spain as hideously illustrative.

    You can google its symbols.


    I'll never forget one part of Dr. Farmer's lecture on it.

    A Nazi officer looked at the painting with Picasso shortly after completion and blurted out, "Oh, my God, that's so ugly!  Who did that?"

    Picasso responded, "You did!"


    The PCUSA is symbolic of many mainline denominations.


    Check the stats.


    Nobody really pays attention to 'em.

    Indeed, the mainliners have moved to the sidelines of American religious life and influence.

    You've gotta be really dense or disillusioned to dispute that.

    Of course, there are people who think Miley Cyrus is a fine role model for...


    I was trying to mediate an argument between a PCUSAer and an EPCer.

    That's alphabet soup talk for addicts to Presbyterian polity competing over who's got better theology.

    The PCUSAer kept accusing the EPCer of leaving the denomination.

    The EPCer kept accusing the PCUSA of leaving members who were still faithful to Jesus by the book.

    Essentially, they were accusing each other of something very ugly and inconsistent with following the One that each claimed to follow more than the other.

    I thought of Dr. Farmer, Guernica, the Nazi officer, and Pablo Picasso.

    I think of them whenever I witness fights in families, churches, communities, and countries.


    Who did that?

    We did!


    There is hope.

    We can stop doing it.

    There's still time to be...Christian.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the
authority of Jesus, our Master...You must get along with each other.
You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life
in common...I bring this up because some...brought a most
disturbing report to my attention - that you're fighting among
yourselves!...When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ."

Apostle Paul


    My mom threatened to stop leaving messages on my cellular if I didn't change the message:

        Someday...[dramatic pause]...everybody will return from the cemetery...[dramatic pause]...
        but you...[dramatic pause]...If that thought troubles you, you really don't get it.  You
        really don't get what Jesus has done for you; and...[dramatic pause]...I would like to
        talk to you about Him at anytime...[dramatic pause]...Sorry, I can't come to the phone
        right now; but if you'd leave your name, telephone number, and brief message after
        the beep...[no dramatic pause]...I'll return your call as soon as I can.  God bless you!

    My wife wasn't encouraging either: "Why can't you just say, 'Can't come to the phone right now; so leave a message.  God bless!'?"

    Not being a priest, no other woman rivals their place in my life; not to mention my sister.

    They commanded my attention; not to mention my, uh, sister.

    Besides, I noticed a big reduction in voicemails since recording that message; so I changed it:

        O.K., let's make a deal in a Christian kinda way!  The world, America, families, and even
        churches that should know better are a mess - plagued by separation, divorce, disunity,
        irreconcilable attitudes and actions.  So let's agree to model Someone better!  Jesus! 
        Let's agree to be forgiving, reconciling, and loving like Jesus!  I can't come to the phone
        right now; but if you'd leave your name, telephone number, and brief message after the
        beep, I'll return your call as soon as I can.  God bless you!


    I still like the first message.

    It's what Christianity is really all about in the end.

    It addresses humanity's greatest fear with His greatest assurance.

    John 3:16-17.


    I like the second message.

    It's how Christians act when they get what Christianity is all about in the end.

    It addresses the kinda conduct that confirms confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    John 13:34-35.


    I'll keep the second message on my cellular for a while.

    If anyone complains about it, I'll go back to the first message.

    If anyone complains about it, I'll go back to the second message.

    If anyone complains about it, I'll go back to the...

    Acts 5:27-29.


    Andy was an inspiration for sticking with what's/Who's important over what's/who's incidental.

    Trained in America and Europe sooooooo apologetically as in advocating/defending the intellectual credibility of Christianity, my messages/lectures were sooooo...academic that Andy shook his head after I went on and on and on about something related to Someone, smiled, and said, "Bob, just give 'em the gospel...[dramatic pause]...for Christ's sake!"

    He reminded me of a guest preacher in preaching class who counseled, "When bringing a message to the people, don't pluck the turkey in front of them....[dramatic pause]...Just deliver it!"

    I think I'm starting to get it/Him.

    There's no need to argue about Jesus by the book.

    Just announce who Jesus is and what Jesus does by the book.


    Acts 3:6.



Blessings and Love!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Galatians 2:20

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect?...I tried keeping rules
and working my head off to please God, and it didn't work.  So I quit being
a 'law man' so that I could be God's man.  Christ's life showed me how,
and enabled me to do it.  I identified myself completely with Him.
Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer
central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous
before you or have your good opinion, and I am no
longer driven to impress God.  Christ lives in me.
The life you see me living is not 'mine,' but
it is lived by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself
for me.

I am not going to go back on that."



    If you're reading this without reading the last edition ("Gerry Larson's Right!"), I doubt it will make much sense.

    It may not make much sense even then.

    It's a continuing parable or poem or...indigestion.

    I've reached the conclusion that I will be scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book until I experience Him in a 1 Corinthians 13:12 kinda way.

    I've had many renewing to regenerating moments along the way.

    I'm still unpacking October 2011 with Eugene and my covenant brothers.

    The last week - building upon what's recorded in the last edition along with the two recollections and revelation to follow - is the latest moment.

    If you don't get it, it's O.K.

    It's a Romans 8:26-30 thing.


    MB of IHOP has often said, "Our staff at IHOP is allowed one 'God told me' a year."

    Relating to his hyperbole to make a point, he's cautioning against the spiritualizing of auto-suggestion at the expense of revelation consistent with Jesus by the book.

    This recollection is my way of saying the revelation to follow in concert with the last edition of KD may be inspired or may be indigested and may be relevant or may be irrelevant or...

    Obviously, recording it means I'm thinking it may be helpful to others; by way of contradiction if nothing else.


    Many, many, many years ago, while "senior" pastor of a very "important" church, I was interviewed for a very, very, very high profile para-denominational gig in California.

    It wasn't offered to me.

    Simply, I blew the interview; not because of what I said but because of who I was.

    I'm not saying I'm that hot now; just admitting there's always been room for lots of improvement with now being no exception.

    Explaining why they would search for someone else over lunch - ruining the best orange beef that I'd ever had in one of Hollywood's most notorious ethnic restaurants - Jerry not Gerry said, "You've got so many impressive academic credentials and executive experiences for somebody of your age; but while you talk about how to love people, we just don't get the sense that you really love them...personally."

    It was true.

    Many moments have ameliorated that since; but it was true then.

    I loved the souls of people; but not people themselves.

    I was not close enough to Jesus' heart to have a heart for them.

    This recollection is my way of saying really loving people for Christ's sake is not possible until we are more than less intimate with Him in a Galatians 2:20 kinda way.

    The up side is we begin to really, really, really love people like Jesus loves them; praying and laboring and wanting nothing but His best for them.

    The down side is we begin to really, really, really love people like Jesus loves them; and suffer with Him in a Matthew 23:37-39 kinda way when they reject our praying and laboring and wanting nothing but His best for them by the book.



    After my vision or dream or whatever (again, ya gotta go back to the last edition for context), I became very, very, very ill.

    I thought it was a physical thing.

    Soon, I realized it was a spiritual issue/challenge/opportunity/fork-in-the-road manifesting itself in a physical way.

    I thought I was going to die.


    I hadn't felt that physically awful since taking pain medication after a hernia operation and watching a ceiling fan turn into Dumbo and fly away over seven years ago.

    It wasn't physical.

    It was spiritual manifesting in the physical.

    My heart had broken.

    My heart had broken because of people who say they love Jesus yet treat each other with much less than His agape.

    It was a cumulative effect of watching/experiencing that everywhere with everyone; including the mirror of my soul.

    Everywhere with everyone about almost everything, I saw people who say they love Jesus treating each other with contempt, disrespect, discourtesy, disdain, disunity, irregularity, irascibility, and irreconcilability.

    My soul's mirror reflected them more than Him.

    I cried, "Lord, my heart is broken.  My heart is broken by people who won't forgive and reconcile and sacrifice and invite and welcome and include and...  My heart is broken because I have often acted too much like them...  You have done so much for them and me and...  My heart is broken for You."

    He said, "I will mend your heart."

    He is.


    As my heart mends, my body follows.

    While I know I will never get it/Him altogether until that 1 Corinthians 13:12 eventuality, getting closer to Him before then will mean increasingly intimate imitation.

    If not, not.

    Affirming the mysteries of predestination does not blind me to the consequences of volition.


Blessings and Love!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gerry Larson's Right!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

    Something strange has been happening on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois.

    I'm not talking about the increasing revival; for that's expected when a family of faith increases its intimacy with Jesus by the book.

    Well into my 9th year of life and ministry with the saints, more and more and more folks keep referring to me as Pastor Bill.

    It started several months ago.

    It happened seven times last week.


    Wishful thinking?

    Humbly, I take it as a compliment; because Bill, my predecessor of 16 years, is heavy artillery compared to my BB gun charismata.

    I'm never defensive with people who'd prefer he was still here and I was somewhere else.

    Some were/are on staff.

    Most of 'em have left; yet...


    I saw pictures of Bill when he arrived. 

    Dark hair.

    He left with all white hair - head and face.

    I came with hair and brown beard.

    I stay with no hair and increasingly salty white partial beard.


    I don't know what it means; but it's gotta mean something.


    There's a thread through the preceding and the following.

    It's parabolic or poetic or...indigestion.

    You judge; and I know some of yu'uns feel very comfortable in His role.

    Maybe I'm just headed to the desert.


    A friend and local pastor who really loves Jesus by the book almost died not too long ago.

    I've often sent people who hate me in a Christian kinda way to worship with him.

    Actually, he did die; but came back to life in a resurrecting kinda way.

    While dead, he heard directly from God about something that he'd read before from Jesus: "There are wolves among the sheep."

    He told me that he has taken the protecting part of undershepherding more seriously ever since in a rod/staff kinda way.

    I've been praising the Lord for his increasing tenure.


    I went to basketball games last Saturday; watching the sophomores win and varsity lose.

    It started well.

    I gave two dollars to the ticketmaster as a senior and was carded.


    Later that night after the games, I got into it with one of my sons.

    Not cool.

    Essentially, he told me how much he hated me for always being at the hospitals and always being available at any hour of the day or night for everybody but my own family.  He said I just sleep when home and never spend time with the family during holidays as I spend all of my time at the church making the seasons bright for everybody else.  He said that's why two of my five sons hate me; and because I've always had more time for everybody but my own family, I shouldn't expect them to...etc., etc., etc., infinitum.



    I've sacrificed sooooooo many of the blessings intended for our family at the altar of my...profession.

    Being a Philippians 3:12-16 and 4:12-13 kinda guy, I will ask God's graces to become a better...everything for everyone to honor Him.


    I started again after hearing directly from Him while feeling...dead...that Saturday into Sunday.

    I think I fell asleep around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday morning.

    Then I heard Him: "Bob, I know you're tired.  Would you like to come home now?"

    Response: "Yes, Jesus, yes, please take me home now.  I am tired.  I'm feeling like a failure as a husband, father, undershepherd, presbyter,...everything to everyone...Yes, please take me home now.  I believe.  I do.  I want to be with You right now. I believe the best life is with You in heaven.  Yes, please take me..."

    That went back and forth for...

    I don't know.

    It was a dream or vision or...indigestion.

    You judge; and I know some of...

    Anyway, it ended with this/His word: "Not done."

    I woke up to a remembrance of my son's recent inking on his right bicep much to the horror of his mom but that I kinda like that kinda speaks to generational divides so innocently pointed out in my exchange with the ticketmaster: Philippians 4:13.

    I'm ready to go home to Jesus right now.



    Paradise sounds good to me.

    I believe the best life comes after the last breath in time.

    I'm also prepared by Him to remain until it's His appointed time to go home to Him.

    I'm with Paul in a Philippians 1:19-30 kinda way.


    Sooooooo Gerry Larson's right.

    About four years ago, I was going on and on and on as I can about not really caring what people think as long as I'm/we're esteeming Jesus by the book.

    Gerry interrupted, "I don't believe you.  I believe you do care.  I believe you care very deeply or you wouldn't be so passionate about it.  I believe you do care or you'd have quit long ago."



    I care very, very, very deeply, deeply, deeply wife and family in Pennsylvania...our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main...Belvidere...Boone/McHenry/Winnebago Counties...BHS/BN...PCUSA...Blackhawk Presbytery...people who leave churches for anything other than apostasy from Jesus by the book...people who say they love Jesus while hating people for Christ's sake...people who say we're friends then drop me because I can't/won't be their champion/BF/lover...people whose self-righteous judgmentalism is only thinly veiled by posing, etc., etc., infinitum.

    I believe there is heaven for believers who, more than less, behave like believers...and hell for...

    Yes, I care.

    Gerry Larson's right.


    Buechner: "A prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover's quarrel.  If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to hell.  They'd just let it go."

    Martha Young: "You love 'em and let God judge 'em and love 'em enough to tell 'em that God's coming back to judge 'em."


    Now what?

    I like my son's ink.

Blessings and Love!