Saturday, October 25, 2014

Remnant Network - 27

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    The two Pauls were my closest friends in seminary; and I still recall asking simultaneously with Paul G. Watermulder as we recollected over coffee not long before co-presiding at Paul E. Swedlund's memorial service at Kansas City's Colonial Presbyterian Church, "I wonder who will preside at the next service?"

    That was 20 years ago.

    I wrote about it in the 7/19/14 KD that you can review by going to the right column, clicking on July, and then clicking on "Paul E. Swedlund."

    Anyway, I still recall how we'd ride together on our iron ponies on Friday afternoons after Greek to New Hope, Pennsylvania across the Delaware River for a mental bath, played on the best seminary softball team in history, skipped the second hour of Dr. Metzger's Christology class with about ten others in our last year to pick up lunch at Hoagie Haven and then watch coeds from the university rowing team as we joked if the RSV's author/editor proved the virgin birth by having children, jumped over the fence with Yukon Jack to swim at the Windsor Apartments pool in the summer on warm midnights, and...did lots of other things that would have disqualified us from ever getting ordained if discovered.



    My first meeting with the surviving Paul was...a forecast of things to come in our evolving ministries and devolving denomination.

    He was strolling along with his oldest then his first, stopped me to say hello as I was walking my dog in the opposite direction who later peed on him in his bed when I came over to his apartment to wake him up on the day after Jimmy Carter was elected for the only time, recalled we were in our first seminary classes together earlier in the day, and then asked, "So what do you think about all of that virgin birth stuff?"

    We got through that; though I still don't think he's gotten over the reception for franchise moderator Lamar when I was in front of him in line to greet the figurehead, shook his hand, and said, "Dr. Lamar, we're so excited to have you on campus; and my friend Paul here is really excited to meet you because he wants to become moderator of our denomination someday and wants to ask you how he can make sure that happens."


    Of course, he's repaid the favor over the years.

    The rest is fraternity that has survived...lots of other things that would have...


    I'll never forget meeting his dad David B. Watermulder, senior pastor of the legendary Philadelphia's Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and President of the Trustees of the even more legendary Princeton Theological Seminary, after a lecture by Martin E. Marty at his/His church.

    I had never seen a church sooooooo big that reeked of sooooooo much...affluence.

    Paul referred to it in his 10/12/14 sermon as "our very high end congregation."

    Or as we often quipped at Princeton, "Somebody's gotta minister to the rich!"

    Be that as it was/remains, I was walking alongside the older Watermulder and blurted, "So where do you go from here?"

    He ignored me.

    I deserved it.

    I learned from it.

    It was my first lesson in being cordial by not responding to...fools.

    Check out Matthew 7:26 in Greek for more on that.

    Confessionally, I don't think I really fully understood that lesson until October 2011 when God used time with Eugene to really open up Matthew 15 and 23 for me that is transforming my whole understanding of undersheperding faithful to Jesus by the book and only faithful to Jesus by the book.  Maybe that's why I'm so energized for another 20 years...or until I'm assassinated by a jingoistic mainliner or Muslim.

    40+ years.


    And that's the kinda influence that Paul's dad has continued to have over my life and ministry.

    Annnnnnnd there's one more lesson that seems appropriate to bring up now; especially as David at the end of his 94th year begins traveling back home to Jesus.

    We were sitting in Paul's apartment not too long before my dog peed on him and I was going on and on and on about how awful it is for the government to execute people for committing crimes that it has assumed warrants capital punishment; thinking I had been really impressive by saying how sad/wrong it is when we end the lives of those who confess and repent after the crime and that it would be far more humane even Christian to let them live the rest of their lives behind bars.

    Concluding this fool needed some direction, Dr. Watermulder asked rhetorically, "Are you saying someone who has been born again in prison would be better off in prison for the rest of their lives than executed for their crimes as a momentary punishment preceding heaven?"


    Sometimes we forget what this/Church/He is really all about in the end.


    I was blessed to have Dr. Watermulder remind me of the most important/essential fact of Christian faith before I misled people into more of an existential than eternal relationship with Jesus.

    I was blessed to have Dr. Watermulder help me to avoid the trap that has accelerated the decline of most of today's far more existentially focused than eternally focused churches.

    If I have to explain that to you, you wouldn't understand anyway.

    That's what happens when you don't spend 99% of your time with Jesus by the book.

    Like me - even more then than now.

    I thank God for Dr. Watermulder who planted that saving seed in my life.


    Dr. David B. Watermulder is traveling back home to Jesus.

    His son began that 10/12/14 sermon, "When I spoke with my father last night, he ended the conversation saying, for the umpteenth time, 'My time has come, I am finished here.  I am ready to die.'"

    Paul continued, "I raise this today because the heart and soul of the Christian faith, the center of our hope for the future, the engine that drives us to decide to be people of exceptional character, is the resurrection."


    Ultimately, Christianity is about what lasts forever innnnnnnfinitely more than what happens in time.

    Here's a rhetorical question in tribute to Dr. David B. Watermulder.

    If we concentrated on that/Him, what unites us in the end, don't you think we wouldn't get sooooooo caught up in and divided by stuff so fixed in time?


Blessings and Love!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Remnant Network - 26

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    Many years ago during a meeting of rabbis, pastors, and priests in Cranford, New Jersey, I learned it's possible to be conciliatory even if you cannot be reconciled.

    Etymologists will claim those words have the same roots and, ergo, same essential definitions.

    While I may be wrong, I disagree.

    It doesn't matter though; so I'm not gonna get into a tinkling contest over it.

    As I'm increasingly prone to say, if you're looking for an argument, get a mirror.

    I just learned people can get along even if they have some very, very, very sharp emotional, intellectual, and spiritual differences.

    And, heaven, if we don't start learning how to...

    Getting back to the Garden State, the clergy of different persuasions got together to discuss manger scenes on public property.

    Being a lot younger and bolder, I started right in rather stridently, "Let's admit it!  We have an irreconcilable theological difference here!  We believe Jesus is Lord and Savior and you don't!"

    An old rabbi with a long gray beard in typical attire stood up and spoke softly, "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."

    We could not reconcile the theological difference.

    We did decide to place a manger scene and menorah in front of the library.

    We were conciliatory even if not reconciled.



    While I'm Christological, Pauline, and even Freudian when it comes to sexual couplings/nuptials, I'm aware of the increasing diversity in our world, country, and even churches when it comes to that kinda stuff.

    My friends on the right are very mad at me because I just can't make this into a kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it thing and my friends on the left are very mad at me because I just can't make this into a kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it thing.

    While I'm convinced rather egotistically and condescendingly and narcissistically and arrogantly that our world, country, and even churches would be sooooooo much better off if everybody were philosophically, ideologically, and theologically spoon-fed by me - Even if you don't ever think like that (Yeah, right!), the hard left and hard right always think like that! - I know there ain't no chance of that ever happening.


    I've learned a very hard lesson over the years.

    I've often been wrong and had to confess it and repent from it.

    While I'm still betting my soul on Jesus as Lord and Savior with enthusiasm and without equivocation, I'm not going to bet my soul on many other things.

    I'm just not as egotistical, condescending, narcissistic, and arrogant as the hard left and hard right.



    With the aforementioned in mind, how can we remain faithfully in a denomination like all the others that's increasingly apostate under current management?

    While I may be wrong, how we approach the same-sex nuptials thing could provide a model for being conciliatory even if not reconciled.

    Soooooooo I asked folks from differing philosophical, ideological, and theological perspectives for suggestions on how we can be conciliatory about something like same-sex nuptials when we know sooooooo many differences about 'em can never be reconciled apart from an Acts 1:11b apocalypse.

    Then I went to my ecclesiastical superiors - Executive/General Presbyter who is kinda like a bishop or DS and Chairwoman of our Committee on Ministry who is kinda like a referee - for counsel on how to draft something for a vote by Blackhawk Presbytery - which is kinda like a diocese or conference -  on dealing with the issue in a conciliatory if not reconciled kinda way.

    While I learned something from everyone, no one should be blamed for what I will be suggesting to Blackhawk Presbytery at its next stated meeting on November 11.

    Moreover, because everybody from every philosophical, ideological, and theological direction has already made up her or his noodle on it - and if they haven't, they must have been watching too many re-runs of Breaking Bad or starring in The Walking Dead - I'll just move it, hope for a second, suggest a quick vote without debate, sit down, and never talk about it again.

    Here's what I'm gonna move: "Acknowledging same-sex nuptials are legal in Illinois and the PCUSA affords discretion to its teaching elders by the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly to preside or not preside at such rituals+ceremonies=rites and particular churches may host or not host such ordinances upon session approval subject to the review of higher judicatories, Blackhawk Presbytery will honor the consciences of teaching elders and particular churches within its bounds; noting its members are divided among those who embrace the authoritative interpretation as witness to progressive theology and those who reject it according to traditional Christianity.  Presiding/participating teaching elders and hosting churches may exercise their consciences as permitted by the authoritative interpretation.  No efforts to force teaching elders and sessions who decline to preside/participate/host will be encouraged, enabled, or condoned.  Those who embrace and those who decline do not need to fear ministerial infringements or vocational reprisals in Blackhawk Presbytery."

    Anyone from left, right, up, or down who doesn't get why such a motion is necessary in today's secular and ecclesiastical cultures that are often hard to distinguish from each other is naive or stoned.

    Hello, Kenyon!

    Hello, Houston!



    My guess is this will ___ off my friends on the right, confuse 'em on the left, and maybe, just maybe, prayerfully maybe, convince a remnant that it's possible to be conciliatory even if not reconciled.

    Of course, if ya think this is one of those kingdom-rises-or-falls-on-it litmus tests of fidelity...

    I don't.

    I may be wrong.

    For me, it's simple.

    I'm praying and trying to follow Jesus by the book.

    Sooooooo what happens if the government, courts, PCUSA, or any other denomination require its pastors/sessions/churches to preside/participate/host or lose their ordinations/credentials/etc.?

    Let me be clear, crisp, concise, and conclusive.

    I'll never, never, never preside/participate at/in the aforementioned because I'm convinced it's categorically antithetical to two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity.

    I don't care what the government, courts, or any church rules.

    God first, only, and always as best revealed in Jesus by the book.

    "We must obey God first, foremost, always, and only!"

    "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

    Read 9.03 of C67.

    That's where I'm praying and trying to be because that's where He and His are!

    I like the way Luther put it...



Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remnant Network - 25

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)













    We have been told ad nauseum: "Our best people are on it."


    Old joke comes to mind.

    How do you know if DC is lying to us?

    Their lips are moving.


    Yet, there are women and men who still love America; running for office against pathological liars.

    I had the privilege to pray about it last night.


Boone County Republican Club
51st Annual "Steak Fry" to Meet Candidates
October 16, 2014
Community Building
Belvidere, Illinois

Proverbs 14:25-27,34
Matthew 11:28


Your word is clearly conclusive even if increasingly not compelling to our world, America, Illinois, churches, commerce, schools, families, and marriages: “Return to Me and I will restore you.”

So we thank and praise You for candidates who do not diss or seek to distance You from the equation of governance and justice.

Prophetic voices have warned us for You of this moment in sacred history when the halls of governance and courts of law will be infiltrated by women and men who do not esteem You above all, mislead, and abandon the principles of our great heritage.

For when a Governor invokes Your verdict in Holy Scripture out of context in celebrating behaviors absolutely antithetical to a contextual understanding of Your Word and when a United States Senator slanders our military, we sense we are perilously close to forfeiting what You have entrusted to us as one nation under You.

We beg Your blessings upon these candidates and this assembly as, together, we labor to call America, Illinois, churches, commerce, schools,
families, and marriages back to You.

Help us to be Your faithful remnant; looking up, standing up, speaking up, acting up, and voting for You by voting for women and men who esteem You.

And as these candidates and this assembly pledge to honor You through public service, bless them according to their individual needs through Jesus in whose name we pray.




Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Remnant Network - 24

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    PCUSA is hawking a new hymnbook: Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal.

    While the title comes off as an oxymoron to remnanters and the parochialism is nauseating in a John 17 kinda way, it's pretty good apart from being anachronistic upon publication.



    A hardcover book of hymns again right now.

    In my short life, I've gone from the green one to the red one to the blue one to the - drummmmmmm rolllllll - ya can order your new one in red or purple one.

    It just makes me wanna sing, "Onward Christian Soldiers!"


    That one didn't make the cut.

    No wonder didn't publish the open letter to you know who in the last edition.

    With all of the technology out there and print going the way of the Smith-Corona and lead pencil, ya'd think...



    Sooooooo cynical of moi.


    Can nothing good come out of...Louisville...or its other sister-franchise-idolatry-promoting HQs?


    What's happening to moi?



    Like all franchise families or families of any kind for this matter, there are three ways of assessing what's going on/wrong/right/whatever.


    "My family is pure and perfect in every way!"


    "My family is the worst of all and I've gotta get the heaven out of it asap!"


    "All families have problems and need help!"



    Getting back to the new hymnbook.

    While I still think it's an old wineskin for a new, uh, age, it's not bad.

    It's not pure and perfect.

    Heaven, they left out...

    Buuuuuuut if I were into anachronisms, I'd buy it; while sure as heaven asking for editions without the idolatrous sub-title.



    I've still gotta deal with my initial reaction - cynical.

    Cumulative effect, mes amis.

    Yeeeeeeet, if I am gonna try to follow Jesus by the book, I've gotta be a little more mature about these kinda things.

    I just read something "From the President" in Wake Forest Magazine that caught my attention (Fall 2014): "There can be no more important message...than civility...It has to do with who we are and what our communities are like...a community where people are taken seriously...In a world increasingly fragmented..., we need to preserve an oasis of civility."

    Like, uh, in the church.

    Professor Katy Harriger picks up the P's theme on page 81 of the same rag: "Civility isn't the same as politeness...goes beyond that to showing respect for another person, even if you disagree...It's about seeing the other person as a valued human being...Look at television, especially reality shows; the way to become famous is to be uncivil...Our political system has become so uncivil...If someone has a different view from you that doesn't make him or her subhuman or not worthy of respect.  We tend to demonize those we disagree with.  It doesn't mean you never disagree...but we can do that in a civil manner...Our public policy discussions today are so polarizing; it's all or nothing..."

    Sounds so much like, uh, the...



    One of the things that increasingly impresses me about Jesus by the book is He did not suffer fools gladly.

    He didn't abuse them either.

    He ignored their ignorances and...told the truth (check out His encounter with Nic in John 3 for instance) without blinking or blushing.


    Being the incarnate God, He not you or me could do that.

    Only He not you or me was/remains pure and perfect in every way from here to eternity.



    Getting back to the new hymnbook as a metaphor for you know what - and if you don't know what already, my guess is you're so caught in your ecclesiastical idolatries that... - I don't think it's the best or worst out there; so I'm not inclined to lionize or demonize it.

    It's O.K.

    I didn't expect it to be pure and perfect in every way.

    Come to think of it, aren't you thankful that God has never expected us to be pure and perfect in every way?

    Annnnnnnd if you don't get thaaaaaaat, sign up for the next Christology course asap.



Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Remnant Network - 23: "An Open Letter to Muslims"

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


"There is a remnant..."

Romans 11



An Open Letter to Muslims

Dear Followers of Mohammed,

I am writing to you as a follower of Jesus; meaning I believe He is Lord and Savior and try to behave accordingly.

Christians regard Jesus as the perfect personification of God and the Bible as providing the perfect prescriptions for following Him.

Assuming you are trying to follow your leader Mohammed according to your sacred literature, I have increasing concerns about how you participate in civilization.

Surely, “Muslims” are like “Christians” in diversity of beliefs and behaviors; acknowledging any connection between some beliefs and behaviors and their founders by their books are often just coincidental.

I differentiate between posers and authentics.

Posers follow their leaders by their books when it’s convenient to their egocentric wants, feelings, needs, and opinions; as in, “I know that’s what Jesus/Mohammed says, but I think…”

Authentics follow their leaders by their books; surrendering the egocentric to the theocentric; as in, “God said it.  I believe it.  That settles it.”

While my guess is some of what I am writing may appeal to posers who are moderately committed to their leaders – “Yeah, that’s right!  I am a moderate!  I’m moderately committed to Jesus/Mohammed as long as it doesn’t, you know, conflict with my wants, feelings, needs, and opinions!” – I am hoping this will attract attention from Muslims who are trying to follow Mohammed by the book.

I have two concerns about how authentic Muslims participate in civilization.

First, from everything that I’ve read about Mohammed and observed in Muslims who follow him by the book, it’s noticeably barbaric from most civilized points of view.

I mean, let’s face it.  Cutting off heads for apostasy, cutting off other body parts for lesser infidelities, and degrading women in so many ways just doesn’t seem very, uh, civilized from most, uh, civilized points of view.

When someone makes fun of Mohammed in a silly cartoon or sophomoric video, you go apoplectic.  You make our snake-handling Pentecostals look like Emily Post devotees.  Are you that emotionally fragile that you can’t handle people who don’t esteem Mohammed like you do?  Yeah, I know you’ve got this convert-to-us-or-be-killed-by-us thing going.  But think about us!  We are a constant source of comic material for Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher, Kathy Griffin, and so many others who don’t have to worry about Christians declaring death warrants against them.

And what’s up with the masks when you do your beheading thing?  You look like America’s old KKK on steroids!  It comes off rather cowardly.  If you have the courage of your convictions, man up, name it, and claim it!

Your leaders of your leader are quick to convince their followers that there are dozens of virgins awaiting those who get knocked off for your cause.  While that sounds like something very appealing to Cub Scouts in heat, it comes off as rather juvenile to the rest of us.  Really, is that what your heaven is mostly about?  Sex with virgins?  Whoa.

Second, if what I just wrote is really, really, really wrong about Muslims who follow Mohammed by the book, why don’t you condemn their barbarity and tell everyone that they’re not following Mohammed by the book? 

There’s no such thing as a silent majority.  Everybody knows silence about bad behaviors emanating from bad beliefs accommodates and enables them.  If they’re wrong about Mohammed by the book, then you owe it to, uh, Mohammed to tell them about it and convince us that we’re wrong about thinking Islam is barbaric from civilized points of view.

Christians who believe in Jesus by the book have always been quick to criticize the bad behaviors of people posing as Christians.

Don’t even bring up the Crusades!

Jesus and people who really are authentically believing in Jesus by the book would never have approved of the barbaric behaviors emanating from the bad beliefs of the Crusaders.  They were about as authentically devoted to Jesus by the book as we are hoping you will tell us are those barbarians masquerading as Muslims who go around chopping off body parts, degrading women, and declaring death warrants against anyone who disagrees with their version of Islam.

You can’t blame Jesus for “Christians” who need more than just “some” Jesus in their lives as we are hoping you will tell us about those barbarians who claim to be following Mohammed so closely.

I guess it does come down to our leaders.

Would Mohammed do the things that those murderously marauding “Muslims” are doing in the name of Allah?

If not, you have to speak up!

If so, admit it and let the chips fall where they will!

Would Jesus do the things that those murderously marauding Crusaders did in the name of God?

Absolutely not!

That means anybody who is truly following Jesus by the book will not!

Though what I’ve read and seen from the barbaric “Muslims” and what I haven’t heard or seen from the other ones doesn’t add up to anything positive or redemptive for the place of Islam in a civilized world, I confess not being an expert; which is why I’m waiting for the rest of the Muslims to provide a verdict on the obviously barbaric ones.

I’m just somebody who loves Jesus who is trying to follow Him by the book; and the Jesus of the book is compassionate, merciful, forgiving, and, in short, urging His followers to love everybody like He loves everybody which includes praying and laboring for the best for everybody without regard to who, what, where, when, or why with no need or expectation for response, regard, or reward.

That means Christians who follow Jesus by the book are willing to co-exist with people who don’t want to follow Jesus by the book.

That seems so different from Islam. 

Islamists, the loud barbaric adherents and the silent accommodating and enabling ones, don’t seem to share such a commitment to co-existence.

Christianity, following Jesus by the book, can co-exist with everybody else.

Islam, from what I have read and seen, following Mohammed by the book, cannot co-exist with anybody else unless everybody else converts to it.

That doesn’t seem to leave many options for the rest of the civilized world.

I guess, when all is said and considered, either everybody else will have to go if they don’t convert to Islam or everybody else will have to team up and you’ll have to…

I hope and pray I’m wrong.

Please speak up and encourage us that we’re wrong about you.

For unlike what we’ve increasingly read about and increasingly seen from you, we would like to co-exist.

We’re not asking you to become like us.

We’re just asking you to be more conciliatory and recognize the planet has enough space for all of us.

Before everything but heaven breaks out, please show the world that Mohammed by the book isn’t as barbaric as we’re reluctantly concluding by the behaviors of so many of those who claim to follow him.

If you cannot get your house in order, we will not let you invade ours much longer.


A Follower of Jesus


Blessings and Love!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Remnant Network - 22

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



    She rushed into my study about ten minutes before yesterday's first service and asked/accused, "Are you moving?"

    "No," I replied.

    She persisted, "Are you sure?"

    "Well, uh, yeah," as mind shifted from worship to worry, "I don't even have a PIF anymore.  Besides, I just wrote about that in the last KD ('Remnant Network - 21').  I may be assassinated, burned at the stake, or get my head chopped off by Islamonutballed fruitcakes buuuuuuut, no, I'm not interested in leaving and don't feel any nudging away from my call to you and our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main."

    [...You can review "Remnant Network - 21" by going to the right column and clicking on "Remnant Network - 21"...]

    Candidly, she reported, "I don't read those."

    Parenthetically, she is not in the minority on that.

    "I don't know what I can say to convince you that I'm not moving and not interested in moving because I'm called here," I almost pleaded, "and, well, uh, I think the minority that hates me has not yet become the majority and..."

    "I was told you are moving to Europe," she explained.

    "Whoa, now that's novel...I would have guessed Iowa," I blurted.

    We went back and forth like that for five minutes.

    We hugged before and after the first service and again after Sunday School and I think she's kinda convinced I'm not leaving unless, uh, you know, I'm assassinated or burned at the stake or get my...


    Why would anyone start that kinda rumor?

    Especially in October.


    If you've got any ideas, let us know and Kathie will post 'em.


    Some motivations came to my noodle.

    Wishful thinking on the part of folks who left the church after the authentics started to outnumber the posers.

    Wishful thinking on the part of people who don't like all of the new people coming into the church who just love Jesus by the book.

    Wishful thinking on the part of non-believing clergy in town/around and who are threatened by being exposed as non-believing clergy.

    Wishful thinking on the part of political and ecclesiastical jingoists and idolaters who want to kill anyone who says their jingoism and idolatry ain't consistent with Jesus by the book.

    Wishful thinking on the part of people who still like to pretend the emperor has clothes.

    Wishful thinking on the part of people who long for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.

    Wishful thinking on the part of people who can't wait for Grandpa Jacob's cancer genes to kick in or I'm assassinated or burned at the stake or get my...

    Don't know.

    Those were just some of the inspirations/indigestions that came to mind as I entered the chapel for the first service.


    William told me, "You can't fix what you won't face."

    Sooooooo unlike American politicians and most clergy and denominational jingoists/idolaters, I decided to name it in case anyone wants to claim it.

    On the fly, here's what I recall saying, more than less, during "announcements" before both of yesterday's services and throughout most of the afternoon:

    Please know I have no illusions about my place in the life and ministry of our family of faith or even our denomination.  If I died today, there'd be ham and cole slaw in Fellowship Hall on Wednesday and then there'd be people lining up to be on the next Pastor Search Committee next Sunday so you could get the kinda pastor that you'd really like.  A lot of folks in the PCUSA would be happy because there are so few of us left in the franchise - a remnant - that still love Jesus by the book and remember and cherish and want to advance our heritage.  Lots of people don't like me because I'm not afraid to salt; and even though I'll admit when I'm wrong and confess and repent when corrected, lots of people just want their pastors and presbyters to say nothing and stand for nothing.  Maybe it's spirits of division that want to plant seeds of division in our church because we're really starting to move forward with Jesus by the book and shedding the idolatries of the past.  Maybe it's people in town who just want to hurt us.  I don't know.  All I know is, and the damage may already be done because people believe what they wanna believe, I'm not going anywhere because I'm called to be here with you, like being here with you, and love you enough not to lie to you about our need to move closer to Jesus by the book.  Of course, I could be assassinated or burned at the stake or get my...

    That's a summary of most of what I said before both services and throughout the afternoon.

    Again, I'm not sure why someone or some people have started this rumor; but I don't think it's motivated by anyone or anything up to any good in our lives.


    Maybe there's something providential in what I received from the OGD this morning.


The Salt of the Earth

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
Matt. 5: 13

We have gotten accustomed to the blurred puffs of gray fog that pass for doctrine in churches and expect nothing better. From some previously unimpeachable sources are now coming vague statements consisting of a milky admixture of Scripture, science, and human sentiment that is true to none of its ingredients because each one works to cancel the others out. Little by little Christians these days are being brainwashed. One evidence is that increasing numbers of them are becoming ashamed to be found unequivocally on the side of truth. They say they believe, but their beliefs have been so diluted as to be impossible of clear definition. Moral power has always accompanied definite beliefs. Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need a return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God that lives and abides forever. 
A. W. Tozer

    Jesus has taken His newly chosen disciples up into the hills, away from the crowds, in order to teach them what this Gospel is all about.  In His introduction, the Beatitudes, He explained the way to true bliss.  Now He is explaining what the responsibilities of a disciple are.

You are the salt of the earth. . .

    There is no higher compliment that we can pay a person than to say that s/he is the salt of the earth. Jesus gave us that expression. He told His disciples to be the salt of the earth.
They would have understood, perhaps better than we, what He meant.
    Yesterday, as I was walking on the treadmill, I watched an old episode of JAG. Harm and Mac were on a submarine when a generator went out.  The captain ordered all the meat to be packed in salt.  With modern refrigeration, we often forget that for many centuries salt was the most common preservative in the world. If people wanted to keep things from going bad, they preserved them in salt.
    If Jesus' disciples are the salt of the earth, He means that it is our responsibility to see that things don't go bad.  We are responsible for maintaining the highest standards.

We have become so accustomed to people making excuses for their failure to live up to their potential, that we assume God will do the same thing.  Jesus says, No; you are to be the salt of the earth. You and I are charged with maintaining the highest standards.

. . . but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

The Theology of Accommodation
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.
James 2: 1
A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.
John D. Rockefeller
Example No. 1: The Kindly, Committed, Grandfather

 Commitment is not enough. It matters to what one is committed. From all I have heard, C___G___ is a decent human being. But being a decent and committed human being is not enough. Similarly, that a gay couple may have a committed and loving relationship in no way ameliorates the sinful nature of that relationship. Again, it matters to what one is committed.

My great-grandfather, who also lived in Georgia, was a man capable of great love and commitment. He loved his wife and his children. His daughter, my grandmother, loved him and remembered him as a kind, loving and committed man. He died when I was four years old, but I fondly recall sitting on my great-granddaddy's lap and tugging at his long white beard. I remember him wrapping his arms around me and how I giggled into his snowy beard as he cooed, "snuggle-boy, snuggle-boy." He also was committed and devoted and served causes in which he believed while receiving little or no compensation. His devoted and selfless commitment was rewarded when he was elected Grand Dragon of the Georgia Ku Klux Klan. It matters to what one is committed.
Dr. Earl Tilford

Example No. 2: The Winsome, Lesbian, Candidate

March 14, 2006

Apocalypse Now

 If I told you that the most conservative evangelical on the PUP [Peace, Unity and Purity] Task force celebrated the decision of Milwaukee Presbytery to ordain a self avowed practicing lesbian you would be tempted to call me a liar.
On Saturday March 11 I attended the meeting of Blackhawk Presbytery held at First Presbyterian Church in Marengo, Illinois. I was there as a guest in order to be with a friend whose new call was to be approved by Blackhawk Presbytery during the meeting. 
The members of Blackhawk Presbytery are a friendly and hospitable group.  I enjoyed my day of fellowship with them. The meeting was preceded by a 90 minute prayer service. More presbyteries ought to replicate this spiritual discipline.
During the meeting Mark Achtemeier, considered by many to be the most conservative and evangelical scholar on the PUP task force, gave a 1 hour sales pitch for the PUP report.  His report was followed by a 30 minute “Q and A” dialogue with the commissioners.
During his comments Mark affirmed two statements which I have heard frequently from other members of the PUP Task force:
That the PUP Report neither advocates nor permits "local option;”
  • That under the PUP Report presbyteries will not have permission to ignore the ordination standards stated in G.-6.0106b.     
Up to this point I was cautiously encouraged by Mark Achtemeier’s report.
Then he dropped a bomb!
Mark began to tell the story about how Milwaukee Presbytery had recently approved for ordination a self-avowed practicing lesbian.  Not only did Mark tell the story, but he rejoiced in how Milwaukee Presbytery used our polity and process to approve her ordination.
I was stunned!
In spite of the fact that the woman violated the standards for ordination, as set forth in section G-6.0106b of the Book of Order, Mark Achtemeier rejoiced in how Milwaukee Presbytery made this decision.  Apparently, according to Mark, the woman had such an irresistible and winsome spirit that Milwaukee Presbytery, including some conservatives, voted overwhelmingly for her ordination.
Mark Achtemeier thought this was great! 
I was stunned and so were a number of other commissioners who spoke to me after the meeting of Blackhawk Presbytery.  
Several commissioners asked me, "How could Mark Achtemeier support the defiance of our Book of Order?"
According to Mark Achtemeier this is how our process will work when the PUP Report is approved by General Assembly.  He enthusiastically and unequivocally supports this change!
In defending the process used and the decision reached by Milwaukee Presbytery, Mark Achtemeier described the candidate's lesbianism as a simple scruple.  Furthermore, he affirmed the presbytery's right to accept her lesbianism as a scruple.
In light of the biblical mandate and the historic affirmation of the church, how can anyone lightly dismiss as a simple scruple her rejection of God's instruction that we are to live either in chastity or in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman?
Since I was a guest at the meeting of Blackhawk Presbytery, I did not feel it would have been right for me to ask Mark Achtemeier any questions from the floor.  Furthermore, since he left the meeting before I could speak to him, I need to ask him these questions:

  • If I reject the Lordship of Jesus, is this a scruple or a heresy?
  • If I reject the authority of scripture, is this a scruple or heresy?
  • If I reject Chapter 8 of the Book of Order, is this a scruple or a heresy?
  • If I reject the ordination of women, is this a scruple or heresy?
  • If I affirm pedophilia and rape, is this a scruple or heresy?
  • If I affirm segregation, as several southern states did under the guise of states rights (which parallels the PUP Report’s advocacy for presbytery rights), is this a scruple or heresy?
Or, stated more simply, what is the boundary between a scruple and a heresy?
Advocating, establishing, and  standardizing a process which permits and celebrates the right of any governing body to ignore our constitution, our confessions, and God’s Word will destroy not only our connectional and covenantal relationship, but it will destroy the PC(USA)!
Mark Achtemeier’s presentation at Blackhawk Presbytery made absolutely clear to me that the PUP Report will not unite us in peace and purity.
Instead of bring peace, unity, AND purity the PUP Report, if approved, will bring the exact opposite upon our church.  The PUP Report will not bring:
  • Peace, because it will bring upon us the judgment and wrath of God;
  • Unity, because it will launch the PC(USA) into schism;
  • Purity, because it will allow for the approval of behavior which is disobedient to God’s call for us to live holy lives.

       I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
II Tim. 4: 1-5

    Christians are called to maintain godly standards.  We can't do that if we make exceptions to accommodate our friends, even if they are winsome.
    Christians are called to promote godly purity.  We can't do that if we compromise our beliefs to accommodate those in our society who are committed to ungodly causes, even if they are kindly grandfathers.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
    John 17: 15-19

    We are in the world to preserve, promote and exhibit God's standards.  We are sanctified as we do. We do not have the right nor the authority to change God's standards, to re-interpret them to accommodate our friends or culture, or to re-image God so that He no longer resembles Himself, rather He becomes the image of the prevailing cultural standards.
    If we are to be the salt of the earth, we need to change our culture.  We must not allow our culture to change us. If we do, we become good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
Rev. 2: 14-16
Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
     The Nicolaitans were a heretical sect within the church that preached accommodation with pagan society. They taught that since Christians were freed from the Law, they were at liberty to practice idolatry and immorality.

"It can be an act of faithfulness to terminate the life of an unborn child"
OGA-88-109, "The Covenant of Life and The Caring Community", page 10, adopted by the 195th General Assembly (1983)

"I confess that to love Jesus means to live in faithful, monogamous covenants of love.  ." 
Susan Andrews, Moderator of 215th General Assembly

The First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown, NY, was the host of a "Universal Worship Service" in which the participants offered prayers to a smorgasbord of gods -- including those who, "whether known or unknown to the world, have held aloft the light of truth through the darkness of human ignorance." The service, which the Presbytery of Hudson River promoted by e-mail to its ministers, included readings from Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, the tradition of the "Divine Female," Native Peoples and Judaism.
Apparently, a new pastor was called to the church who announced on his very first Sunday that only two Christian services a year would be held from now on (viz., Christmas and Easter).  He planned to lead "worship" like an imam on Ramadan, rabbi on Hanukkah, and so on; enabling Buddhist meditations on off Sundays.

MINNEAPOLIS – To the tribal rhythms of bongo drums, about 200 women – plus a "few good men," as they called them – swayed slowly into the room for the opening worship of the 10th anniversary (and final) Re-Imaginined god Gathering.
They came on this cloudless day, June 19, to praise water, tell their stories and be reminded that, as women, they have creative license to change entirely what has been an orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. After all, they say they believe the Bible is a product of a patriarchal mindset that oppressed women.
"We don't need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff."

PHILADELPHIA – When arguing for church acceptance of homosexuality, most advocates talk about monogamy. But others are bolder.
"I am a strong ally of those in healthy, polyamorous relationships," declared Debra Kolodny. She argued that having multiple sexual partners can be "holy." Kolodyn was leading a workshop at the WOW (Witness Our Welcome) 2003 convention, an ecumenical gathering for "sexually and gender inclusive Christians."

       H. Richard Niebuhr identifies liberal theology under the Christ of Culture label and sees liberals as accommodating Christianity to the prevailing culture.  In Niebuhr's view, Christianity and culture are neither in tension, nor opposed to each other.

       "Liberals are open to the truth of other religions," said Donald E. Miller in The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, Westminster Press, 1983. "Christianity is not viewed as the only expression of man's search for God or of God's revelation to man. . . Liberals tend to assume a broadly ecumenical attitude."

       Whenever we see people compromising God's standards to accommodate someone with a winsome spirit or a kindly demeanor, we see that the Nicolaitans are still at work in the Church today.

"The plain man in the church has difficulty understanding the nature of the struggle. He does not yet appreciate the real gravity of the issue. He does not see that it makes very little difference how much or how little of the creeds of the church the modernist preacher affirms, or how much or how little of the biblical teaching from which the creeds are derived. This modernist might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a great gulf from the reformed faith. It is not that part is denied and the rest is affirmed, but all is denied because all is affirmed merely as useful or as symbolic, but not as true. A thing that is useful may be useful for some and not for others, but a thing that is true remains true for all people and beyond the end of time."
J. Gresham Machen 

    There is the second great lesson:  Salt adds flavor!  If we are the salt of the earth, we must add flavor to wherever we are.
    The way some Christians live, one would get the idea that Christianity takes all the fun out life.  It shouldn't be that way. 

What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
Rom. 6: 21

The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.
Thomas Morell

    What the world calls "fun" more often than not leaves one feeling ashamed afterward.  If we are to be the salt of the earth we need to be showing the world a better way to live.

There is a story about Alexander the Great, one of the world’s greatest warriors. His army conquered most of the known world in its time. Now in Alexander’s army, there was a young boy who was handsome, strong and skilled at fighting. It seems that during a fierce battle the boy became frightened and hid himself in a cave.

When he was found, he was immediately brought before Alexander for judgment. Alexander, seeing that the boy was terrified and in fear for his life, took compassion on him and asked him, “Son, what is your name?” The young man answered back, “Alexander” with a quiet reply. Upon hearing this Alexander the Great said, “What did you say?” The boy then raised his voice and strongly shouted out “Alexander”. Once again Alexander the Great sternly said, “Boy, what is your name? The young lad responded once again with a sheepish voice and said “Alexander, sir”. Then upon hearing this, the great conqueror exploded in anger, picked up a sword, raised it over the boy’s head and said, “Change your ways, or change your name!”

I think Jesus is saying the same thing to some of us who claim His name.

O Lord of all good life purify our lives.
Help us to know more of Thee,
and by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, use us to show forth Thyself to others.
Make us humble, brave and loving;
make us ready for adventure.
We do not ask that Thou wilt keep us safe,
but that Thou wilt keep us ever faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In His name we pray.

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” 

John Calvin

The Old Gray Dog

Jim Tuckett



Blessings and Love!