KDs are designed/developed/inspired/mused/auto-suggested/indigested to make folks think; an especially uncommon experience among Democrats, Republicans, and jingoistic mainline denominationalists who continue to discourage dissent with their ever-threatening thought police.
A friend has been
selected by the Presbyterian Writers Guild to receive its 2014 publishing
"First Book Award" for his novel set in the Civil War called Nathaniel's Call.
Bob Andrews, a
year behind me in seminary and light years ahead of me as an author, is one of
the few clergykinds who
has captured my esteem generated by his uncommon authenticity, humility,
and Romans 1:16-17 kinda courage.
Anyway, I read
about his award in the 4/21/14 edition of www.churchandworld.com which is
the best summary of news impacting modern ministry. The announcement was
at the top with the other important links while my column on "Pauline
Envy" was on the bottom with...
praising the Lord for Bob being recognized for the charismata entrusted to him and feeling
nothing pejoratively egotistical aka
envy concomitant to Romans 12:3, I was also a tad amused by
the PWG's continuing ignoring of my
pawn-on-the-chessboard-of-publishing efforts punctuated by six
notoriously non-best-selling books along with a plethora of articles, columns,
opines, vents, rages, and so on in professional to anal markets without
even an invitation to one of their gigs, a gift card to Starbucks, or
recommendation to that foundation in Indy that provides sabbatical relief
for me to ride around the nation's perimeter on my iron pony to, uh, get,
uh, more information/inspiration for another non-best-seller.
O.K., they did
cooperate with Cokesbury on those two GA book-signings.
Really, I know my
It was reinforced
just yesterday when I got my most recent royalties check for my last book:
That was preceded by a
Holy Week of glorious proportions; as we set some attendance records despite a
few distractions from the pit of...
Actually, it all
fell into clarity on Easter Day at 5:03 a.m. when I turned on a light to go
downstairs into our Fellowship Hall to get some stuff for our first service,
the bulb exploded, and I fell about 10' or so head first down the steps.
Lying on my side,
I thought, "I really don't need this...I don't have time to go home to
change if I'm bleeding...Hope no bones are sticking out...What the..."
"Lord, are you trying to catch my attention or something? Is this
related to my last column on Pauline
Envy? Am I praying or having an OBE or what?"
I got up, got the
stuff, and did what I'm called to do.
I'm a little
Nothing to do
Later that day, I
prayed, "I guess I could have died today, Lord. I wasn't wearing a
helmet. You just keep me keepin' on so I can try to be faithful to Your
call upon my life. I have no doubts about it/You. I've still got
Pauline envy; but You keep me falling into clarity."
That's why that
award and check didn't bother me.
I praise God for
how He works in the lives of others like Bob and how He works in mine.
While I'm a
Yankees fan by birth and formative NYC years with Grandma Helen and Grandpa
Jacob Kopp on Grove Street in Queens, I wish they'd never named the disease
after Lou Gehrig.
introduction to it was many years ago with a brave man named Keith in
The mind stays
sharp...as everything else goes to...
While I think
I've matured in Him since then, I recall ALS tempted me to Deism.
I've often said I
go through life without a helmet because it's nobody else's business,
encourages my enemies, and witnesses to my trust in eternal life through Jesus,
Buuuuuuut if I were
diagnosed with it, I just don't know...
So when Jim's
wife called me, said he had it, and asked if I would come to visit him, I
members of our family of faith at First.
They heard me at
a funeral years before; and Donna said, "Jim liked what you had to say and
how you said it. I think he would listen to you. I think you can
Well, I didn't
get into this business for the inane clergy/denominational meetings or
satiating hyper-selfish-sensitivities or enabling idolatries or wasting time
You know what I
mean; and if you don't, ain't no way for me to...
I was called to undershepherding under the
Good Shepherd to announce the permanent peace that comes in paradise through
Jesus and how that knowledge/belief/experience enables confident living or
"strong calm sanity" (Oswald Chambers) in the meantimes.
I was called to
urge people who get that/Him to show some gratitude for it all by loving
Him back by loving like Jesus by the book.
So despite my
personal aversions and previous disconcertings to/about it, I went to see Jim.
visiting him every Thursday for the past six months or so; and I will keep
visiting him until he goes home to Jesus.
(Maundy Thursday) was seminal.
As I arrived,
Donna told me that Jim was slipping, weakening, and that the nurse said...
As Donna sat and
listened and Jim could hardly talk, I reminded them of what we shared at the
table of Holy Communion the previous Thursday.
telling him how much I've thanked God for the privilege of getting to know and
love him, I made a confession to Jim in front of Donna that I've never made
before and kept in the privacy of my heart.
Our eyes locked
without blinking throughout the confession.
His presence was
thick and heavy and...calming.
I shared my
deepest confession with him.
We bathed in
I love you, Jim.
I've wanted to tell something to you
for a long time now; and only now, as I know you're getting close to traveling
home, do I feel...
Jim, I'm not a bullshitter. That
has attracted many people to Jesus through me; and, yes, it has caused a lot of
bullshitting religious people to leave churches that I've served. I just
let my yes be yes and no be no and believe you're gonna catch it anyway; so you
may as well catch it for Christ's sake.
So here goes.
Jim, I know you've loved this
life. I do too. I know you'd like more time. Me too.
But I want you to know I kinda envy
you. I mean I'm tired of the bullshit in our world, country, and
churches. I'm tired of people who live to make life so miserable for everybody.
I'm tired of babysitting people who can't differentiate the important from the
incidental. I'm tired, as Margery Williams wrote, of people who break
easily or who have sharp edges or who have to be sooooooo carefully kept.
I'm tired of the bullshit. Even in my...
You're going home to be with
Jesus...paradise...the pure and perfect place of personal peace where there is
no more crying or pain or disease or...
You're going to see Him and know
everything and know everything turns out well and smile at our silliness,
I'm ready to join you; but I guess,
because of moments like these, I can't join you just yet.
I'm like Paul.
I'd rather be with Jesus; but I guess
He won't call me back home because I've gotta help folks cut through the
bullshit to get it/Him.
But I want you to know, Jim, I really,
really, really wish I could join you.
I really, really, really believe in
Jesus and what He's got for you...real soon.
I'm kinda envious.
Do you understand what I'm trying to
say to you?
His eyes are
fixed in my hard drive; and I will click it/him/Him on as...
Oh, how I wish
everyone knew what Jim and Donna and I experienced last Maundy
Thursday as the bullshit was washed away by the gospel rivers of living
I guess that's
why, for people like me who'd rather be with Jesus, the roll up yonder hasn't
While I've had
lots of Damascus Road kinda spiritual evolutions since - October 2011 with
Eugene and brothers in Montana being among the most notable - I've been blessed
since physical birth in a 2 Timothy 1:5 kinda way.
Aunt Ruby comes
She died on April
4 at 94.
"Jesus, her friends and her family were the loves of her life. She
always prayed, hoped and loved. She had a quiet and gentle spirit and was
a great example of Jesus' steadfast love and sacrifices."
I could not be in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania for her memorial/resurrection service because I am an undershepherd because of gospel seeds
planted in my life from as early as I can remember by family members like Aunt
privileged me with being her undershepherd,
went home to Jesus on April 5 at 61.
Kathy loved Jesus
and her family like Aunt Ruby.
She and husband
David exemplified His best in marriage like I rarely see anymore.
On the day that
Kathy traveled home, I kissed her on the forehead and whispered, "You'll
be fine. See you later."
I could not be in
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania because I was in Belvidere, Illinois connecting the
dots to eternity through Jesus for Aunt Ruby and Kathy.
Both are alright.
I will be
thinking about Aunt Ruby, Kathy, and Jesus on Easter Day.
I will be
connecting the dots to eternity; for whoever believes in Jesus, as He promised,
They just go home
and wait for the rest of the family.
Or as Grandpa
Hayden said to me not long before he went home to Jesus so many years ago,
"See you later, Bobby!"
A pastor who I
counsel because of clergy killers came to see me on April 11 before Kathy's
He was troubled:
"Is Christianity as complicated as we are making it? Did Jesus
really have all of these theologies and denominations and ...in mind?"
"I may be
wrong," I offered, especially informed since October 2011 which resulted
in the cleaning out of my library and closet (wink), "it's quite
simple. Love Jesus and you go to heaven after you die. In the meantime, you love Jesus
by loving like Jesus because you're going to heaven after you die. That's
Christianity - that's Jesus - by the book."
the clergy killers in his life, I said to him as I said to Kathy as Aunt Ruby
said along the way, "The present sufferings are not worth comparing
to what's coming in heaven!"
On that first
resurrection day that we call Easter, the folks who got it/Him didn't run
through the streets celebrating theologies and denominations and liturgies and
architecture and vestments and...other temporal idolatries.
Come to think of
it, I don't think any of that stuff is mentioned in the book...anywhere by
anybody that knew Him in an enfleshed kinda way.
All they said was
something like this: "He has risen from the dead! That means we will
live forever with Him through Him! So let's act like it/Him!"
Or something like
connects Aunt Ruby and Kathy and anyone else who chooses Him.
Really, I think
that's what Easter/Christianity is all about.
It's not that
complicated when you know Jesus by the book.
People who really know and love Jesus have
always considered every Sunday to be “a little Easter Day” compelling people
who really know and love Jesus to honor Him through worship, work, and witness.
People who really know and love Jesus are
more eager to worship Him, work for Him, and witness to Him as a privileged
expression of gratitude for His favor here and hereafter than as some kinda
religious duty that makes fidelity look like a bad case of hemorrhoids.
People who really know and love Jesus smile a
People who don’t, don’t!
Jesus is written all over the faces of people
who really get it/Him!
Jesus is seen in people who really know and
love Him because they serve Him by serving like Him a lot!
People who don’t, don’t!
It all started over two thousand years ago on
that first Easter Day.
People weren’t excited about religious stuff
like the funny church clothes that too many clergy wear in defiance of Matthew
23 or any of those distracting idolatries and vanities that obsess pulpiteers
and pewsitters that are rarely more than coincidental to following Him by His
example as attested in Holy Scripture.
People didn’t run around on that first Easter
Day celebrating fabrics, furniture, architecture, liturgies, litanies, rubrics,
rituals, ceremonies, polity, sects, denominations, or anything else religious
that are rarely more than coincidental to following Him by His example as
attested in Holy Scripture.
They ran through the streets of Jerusalem and
then throughout the world with the best news ever: “He is risen!”
Those first witnesses knew His resurrection
meant resurrection for anyone who trusts Him as Lord and Savior along with the
wherewithal to live triumphantly in the meantime of worldly meanness,
madness, and misery.
His resurrection elevated the hope that
emboldened the faith to love Him by loving like Him in the certainty of
“paradise” with Him in heaven after the last breath.
Praise Him for the irrepressible smiles and
service since that first Easter Day!
We know Jesus rose from the dead because:
1.The Church has consistently focused on
and referred to the resurrection of
Jesus as the
keystone of its praise and practice since A.D. 32;
2.The worship calendar shifted for
Christians from the Jewish Sabbath (7th
day of the week) to
Sunday (1st day of the week) because Jesus rose from the dead on
Sunday (see Mark 16);
3.The New Testament consists of 27
testimonies to our Lord’s resurrection;
4.The disciples were transformed from
cowards into bravehearted Gospelers
willing to face the
tests of torture and martyrdom because of Jesus’ resurrection; and
5.Jesus is alive in/through all who
believe in Him; or as the old song goes,
“You ask me how I
know He lives? He lives within my
rose from the dead, people who really know and love Him worship regularly, work
for Him according to the gifts/resources entrusted to them by Him, and witness
to His invitational, welcoming, including, and eternally unconditional love.
I wasn't thinking
about retiring until one of my two favorite diggers who will take care of my
"arrangements" when the role is called up yonder - Bill and Ric
already have the music disk - said last Sunday afternoon while eating
burgers in Janesville, Wisconsin half-way through a trot with our chrome
ponies, "You know, brother, people will be making all of the decisions for
us in about 10 years."
Order those Depends!
It was almost as
bad as PackMan interrupting me on Main Street in Deadwood as I mocked a
trike parade in 2010, "Don't look now but that's our future!"
this will come as a disappointment to those who hate me in a Christian kinda way who
would salivate over news that Grandpa Jacob's cancer has passed on to
me or somebody shot me for
Allah's sake because I keep siding with members, presbyters, and
anybody else who still loves Jesus by the book, I ain't goin' nowhere now or
ever but the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois to gospel unless Grandpa Jacob's
cancer has passed on to me, somebody shoots me for Allah's sake, or the minority that thinks
I'm no longer hip enough to be moderator, undershepherd,
and head of staff becomes the majority.
Borrowing a line
from Gump, "And that's all I gotta say about that."
as an abridgement of Numbers 6, I'm not trimming/cutting another hair from my
grays until every pew in the sanctuary has occupants in the second service.
Call Duck Dynasty
for a cameo!
If the chapel can
be increasingly packed at 7:30 a.m. for worship...
Yep, I've still
got enough vinegar and that other stuff to last me for another two decades at
Really, why would
Sit in McD's all
day with the other gossipers/geezers?
Stand in line for
flu shots at Walgreen's?
Borrowing a line
from Arthur's butler, "I live
O.K., I can think
of a few things that I'd like to do and few things that I'd like to give up
Buuuuuuut aside from
riding around the nation's perimeter for two months on Return2 with a
retirement gift that I forfeited in WSNC and being liberated from compulsory
clergy meetings, really, why would I retire?
How does anyone
retire from gospeling, Matthew
25 ministries, and other kerygmatic
since my denomination joined you
know who in messing up medical care...
Sooooooo I'm gonna hang in
until I'm hung up by someone about something.
Moretheless, the Lord
keeps filling me with new wine and I'm increasingly intoxicated in/through/for
I've never heard
Him say, "Behold, I make all things old."
He never talked
about becoming rigidly inflexible; to the contrary, He talked about stretching
and making room for His new and improved ways of living.
echoed Him in saying we can be newed
creations rather than reclining geezers.
Maybe it's my
He's in his upper
80s and still practices or plays golf almost every day, sings in the choir,
banters and moans about politics with an acuity that dwarfs me, drives on 80
like he's at Darlington, and buys new sticks more often than I trim/cut my
grays that I ain't trimmin' or cuttin' again until...
In fact, my mom
was bantering and moaning to me about a new driver and irons that he just
bought the other day.
"Well, just let me know when he stops buying 'em; then I'll clear up my
calendar, come to make his arrangements,
and preside at his..."
"Ooooooookkkkkkkay, Bobby, I get your point!"
I'm not demeaning
those who retire for all of the right reasons; especially those who've been
captive to jobs for purely financial considerations.
Buuuuuuut if you're doing
something that God really wants you to do and you really like what you're doing
for Him, what are you going to do when you retire?
He retired from a
job that he really liked, immediately got cancer, and died.
Coming from a
denomination known for its connections, I think there was a...
If you don't
write it down, you can deny ever saying it.
Just ask any
politician - civil, ecclesiastical, educational, economic, or...
fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the
time. Not bad odds!"
In other words,
be a weasel.
Is it any wonder
why people don't trust our politicians, clergy, school districts, or...?
Too many of 'em
don't have the courage of their conviction to be held accountable for what they
like to say in darkness.
BTW, in a world
where even 2nd graders have cellulars and smartypants phones, why do you think
there's still a need for those pay phones at your local gas station?
Again, read John
"Everything was going just fine...until I hit reply all."
I don't do
Facebook because of what I've read on Facebook; besides I don't need to know
when Auntie Em is going potty or how potty turned out or...
While we should
be careful about what we say and write, especially when it comes to naming
names, there's no integrity in denying what we know and He knows and others
While a little
common sense helps in knowing when to hold and fold, integrity demands clarity
in communication and sticking
to our communications unless
Anyone who says
and writes a lot will want to write/record it for anyone to read/hear lest
somebody with suspicious motives invents/quotes what was never said/written.
I remember Dr.
McCord telling me many years ago, "While you don't have to tell everybody
everything that you're thinking, never lie! Yes. No. None of
your business. I'll get back to you. Maybe later. But never lie!"
Catch the drift?
anybody who changes their stories depending upon the audience; because people
who agree with the last person they've talked to are like sentences ending in
prepositions. Something's missing and most can sniff that out.
I learned a
valuable lesson as a young pastor in New Jersey.
A bunch of
Christian clergy and rabbis got together to debate the manger scene in
front of the local library.
Being Bob Seger's
little bit younger and lot bolder, I got up and said, "Let's face
it. We have an irreconcilable theological difference. Some of us
believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and some of us don't."
An old rabbi got
up and responded, "My young Christian friend is right; and I'll be damned if he's
right. But I'm betting my soul that he's wrong just as much
as he's betting his soul that he's right."
Then we were able
to trust each other and debate the issue with respect for each other while
maintaining personal integrity.
If we hide what
we really believe so we can deny what we believe, we may get along with people
who hide what they really believe so they can deny what they believe.
If we do that,
we'll just add to the increasing distrust in our civil, ecclesiastical,
educational, and economic cultures.