Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I heard MWS say some secular songs have deep
yet maybe unintentional spiritual significance.
I guess that's for us to...
Acknowledging I may be wrong, I've never thought faith...or nations can be built on broken pickle jars.
Faith...and nations are best built on Jesus by the book.
Yet, a dip into His story aka history is often helpful to understand the origins and antidotes for faith...and nations.
Thanksgiving comes to mind.
The first Thanksgiving was observed by Massachusetts Pilgrims in 1621 during their second winter in America.
The first winter killed 44 of the original 102 colonists.
So the remnant united with about 80 native Americans for three days of feasting and worship to give thanks to God for the blessings of the preceding year.
The national holiday of Thanksgiving was born; praising and thanking God from whom all blessings flow.
Thanksgiving was to be a day to give thanks to God for everything from that first celebration forward.
Governor William Bradford of Massachusetts made the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1623: "Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest...spared us from pestilence and disease...granted us freedom to worship God...listen to the pastor and render thanksgiving to Almighty God for all His blessings."
President George Washington proclaimed thanksgiving to God for deliverance from kings "to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God."
President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday by an Act of Congress in 1863 for "...praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens...nations are blessed whose God is the Lord...But we have forgotten God...We have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own...It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged...by the whole American people."
Pardon the cynicism...buuuuuuut does anyone really think Bradford, Washington, or Lincoln would be elected today to anything almost anywhere in our country?
Yes, His story aka history is often helpful to understand the origins and antidotes for faith...and nations.
Looking back and looking forward, one of the most consistent messages of Holy Scripture is betrayed in the rise and falling of America: "Return to Me and I will restore you."
"Give thanks to Him! Bless His name!
For the Lord is good!"
Blessings and Love!
Monday, November 24, 2014
My first non-best-selling book was Praying Like Jesus (1986).
The picture on the back may be the last glimpse of moi avec hair.
Chuck is convinced I had a perm for that shot.
No matter how I've tried to persuade him, he's thrilled to share his discovery with, uh, everyone/anyone who listens.
I've learned it's tough to convert Chuck when he's convinced.
My sister is blunt.
Several years ago, she said, "Bobby, you're going to have to decide what you're going to do about your beard. Either you shave it all off or cut it down to a half-beard or goat; 'cause right now you look like your head's upside down."
I've never been into corrective/creative combing.
Currently, Phyllis likes my goat.
Matt thinks it's-ergo-I'm gay; which is really helpful 'cause I'm in the PCUSA.
He likes the born to be wilder look.
But since Jeff cut off his beard and went from looking like the Lion King to a...
You'll have to ask Adelaide, Chuck, or Jeff what I think he looks like now.
Ain't for polite company.
All I'll say is Jeff convinced me no matter what's convincing Chuck to go with Matt more than Phyllis.
I told you about Pearl.
But as my homiletics professors told me and I've told my homiletics students since, "If it's worth preaching once, it's worth preaching twice; and if it's not worth preaching twice, it's not worth preaching once."
Interims really like that.
Anyway, long story short, I shaved off my beard because Pearl wanted me to shave off my beard because my beard reminded her of her son with whom she had a really, really, really bad relationship; and whenever she looked at me, she transferred bad feelings to me and...
After shaving off my beard, I thought she would like me and maybe even buy something for me.
She looked at my baby-butt face at the time and said, "Now about your moustache."
I've learned only God defines me.
People try; but in the end as well as sooner than later and usually sooner than later, God defines me...and you...and everybody else.
Sooooooo I never ask anyone anymore anytime anyhow what they think about my...
I look in the mirror, reflect on Numbers 6 now and then, and...
What does this have to do with remnant?
As I was telling one of the aforementioned not too long ago, "We both believe in Jesus by the book; but you're going down one path and I'm going down another path. I can't go down your path and you can't go down my path because we're inspired/indigested to go our separate ways for now; but, in the end, we will end up at the same destination because we both believe in Jesus by the book."
I know some folks don't buy into that.
That's because they have more qualifications and litmus tests for salvation than...Jesus.
Blessings and Love!
Friday, November 21, 2014
I have come full circle; yet still scratching the surface of my relationship with You through Jesus by the book as mused by Spirit.
Call compromised and corrupted by too many years of academics, ecclesiastics, and invention elevated to revelation with my conscious cooperation is reversing/recovering/refreshing like a hard turn against seductively strong currents of carnality.
Rebirthing to the simple gospel - urging trust in You with no rivals for time and forever – has recalled old kinships, repelled inauthentics, and riveted passion to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus; always acknowledging faithless inclinations and encouraging correction to confession and repentance by the example of Jesus, explanations of Holy Scripture, and common sense.
Along the way, sorry to say, I exchanged confessional clarity, conversion catalyzing, and concrete Christianity for positions, popularity, possessions, and pseudo-proprieties.
Along the way, I have insulted Your holiness by talk and walk with the always collateral injuring of Your people.
Yet, You never abandoned me; calling me back to You even when distancing myself as far from You as my idolatries persuaded.
The journey continues; and You demand the wineskin to expand again from above and make more room for new opportunities to experience and express You.
Thank You for forgiving my erroneous omissions and commissions; and thank You even more that the advancement of Your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven does not depend upon me.
Thank You for always providing who and what are really required; and thank You even more for ignoring my beggings always inferior to Your providence.
I accept what is about to happen as prophesied, envisioned, and confirmed; not knowing the details as yielding to direction.
I trust the wherewithal by Your grace for Your honor; not knowing what is necessary as yielding to provision.
Most especially, I thank You for eternal certainty overcoming existential confusion; knowing I am irrevocably Yours through Jesus in whose name I pray.
Aside from being my favorite gospel group of all time,
the video at the top is a metaphor akin to the Song
of Songs for folks who get it; and if ya don't,
ain't no way for me to explain it.
Of course, existentially, both also bring to mind...
I'm thinking it's often presumptuous to pray
"we" when not knowing if "we" are really
on the same page. Ergo, I often pray
in the first person; sensing I'm no
different from anyone else yet
providing space for folks who
don't share my ACTS.
Phillips Brooks cited a parallel in homiletics.
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
This motion was seconded and prevailed by an overwhelming majority at Blackhawk Presbytery's stated meeting on 11/11/14 at Oregon, Illinois' Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center: "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."
Practically, Blackhawk Presbytery has become a you-don't-bother-us-and-we-won't-bother-you oasis for progressives and traditionalists in a denomination reflecting its host country's increasingly divisive and ultimately destructive my-way-or-the-highway partisans.
Indeed, I hope that floor debate about the aforementioned motion was recorded.
I think others could benefit from BP's increasingly uncommon civility; as the PCUSA, sister franchises, America, and rest of the world betray their collective thanatos libido.
Having said that and praised God for that, we're going to be voting on making same-sex nuptials a part of our denominational constitution throughout the rest of 2014 and into the first half of 2015.
Essentially, the PCUSA may/will, uh, evolve from allowing 'em to advocating 'em by allowing/advocating/ordering 'em in its rule book with decreasing correspondence to you know who based on you know what.
Specifically, everybody's gonna be voting to approve or reject the recommended change to the constitution from marriage being "between one man and one woman" to "between two people."
Our family's dog Kopper, fondly referred to as "our gay dog" because he's so sweet on me while assuming he's human not canine, is hopeful.
C'mon, folks on the hard left and right, lighten up!
Anyway, to become a part of the constitution, all that's needed is a simple majority of 86 out of 171 presbyteries.
If it doesn't pass, I predict Crazy Joe or Texas Teddy will be our next President.
I asked several folks who are really into this with much more litigious interest/sophistication than moi to address three questions.
If it prevails, what will it mean?
If it does not prevail, what will it mean?
If it fails, what happens to the nuptials that were performed since the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly?
A common general response: "The authoritative interpretation is not a part of the constitution. It remains an authoritative interpretation of the constitution regardless of the vote on the amendment to the constitution."
Precisely addressing the three questions, here are the collective responses as summarized as simply as possible by moi.
Q. If it prevails, what will it mean?
A. Freedom...without bounds!
Q. If it does not prevail, what will it mean?
A. Nothing! The authoritative interpretation remains/applies no matter how the vote goes.
Q. If it fails, what happens to the nuptials already performed?
A. Nothing! That's the, uh, genius of the 221's GA. The AI supercedes the amendment.
Sooooooo, mes amis, folks who wanna get hitched to someone from the same gender can, uh, do it in the PCUSA because it's always gonna be allowed and maybe advocated yet, at minimum, always allowed.
The train has left the station.
Uh, score one for the, uh, hard left!
Getting back to Blackhawk Presbytery, we get to vote on advocating it even though it will be allowed no matter how the vote ends up/down on 2/10/15 at Rochelle, Illinois' First Presbyterian Church.
Sooooooo how do non-progressive traditional theologians like moi remain faithfully?
Well, I think/pray this will maintain integrity despite not pacifying spirit, intellect, or gut.
Knowing anyone who hasn't made up her/his mind on this since the topic's been raging in the franchise for, ooooooohhhhhhh, 40+ years must be living in the ozone layer of reality with an indecisiveness only matched by BBPBHO on most moral/national/global matters, I'm gonna get in line as soon as the debate starts; and when my lips hit the mic, I'm gonna move the previous question. Again, ya gotta wonder what the anything but heaven folks have not been thinkin' if they haven't already made up their minds on this one. Reeeeeeeaaaaaaaly, are we inclined to keep the floor open for a few hours more of venting, pontificating, advocating, antagonizing, bantering, and moaning?
Assuming the vote to amend the constitution will prevail in BP, I'm gonna ask the stated clerk aka ecclesiastical secretary to record me as dissenting from both the AI and the amendment just so I'm covered on both at the same time in an exercise of time/emotions stewardship: "I ask the stated clerk to indulge my constitutional right to be recorded in the minutes by name and church as dissenting from the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly and our presbytery's vote to amend the constitution from marriage being 'between one man and one woman' to 'between two people' as categorically contradictory to over two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity."
If the vote prevails in our presbytery, I hope other presbyters will dissent; using the suggested wording or, probably, something much better to express this amendment as an abomination and insult to Jesus by the book.
If the vote prevails in other presbyteries, I hope presbyters will dissent; using the...
Jesus never said it would be easy to be part of the remnant.
Read Matthew 10 for more on that.
It's like our administrative assistant aka my boss in Belvidere said as we discussed the folks who have left over the years because they picked up their marbles and walked away because of their my-way-or-the-highway weltanschauung, "We're sure glad Jesus never gave up on us every time we disappointed Him."
She's so much wiser than me; even if only a year older.
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
I was asked what I wanted to "pray for" at "A Gathering to Pray and Remember Persecuted Christians" held last night.
Knowing the host church would not allow me to participate in "their" observance of Holy Communion, I said I'd like to pray for persecuted Christians in America.
A Gathering to Pray and Remember Persecuted Christians
November 12, 2014
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Proverbs 14:25-27, 34
Your word is clearly conclusive even if increasingly ignored and not compelling to our world, America, churches, commerce, public schools, families, and marriages: “Return to Me and I will restore you.”
As we pray for people around the world this evening who are being increasingly bruised, beaten, battered, and butchered for loving You by loving like You with the compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and agape of Jesus, we see and sense the increasing persecution of Christians in America.
Except for isolated instances at the demonically inspired hands of jihadists, people who love Jesus by the book in America “have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.”
We admit to superficial, trivial, and inconsequential protestations of persecution like fears of our deodorants not keeping us dry all day long, the temperature in the sanctuary being too cold or hot, the volume of the music being too low or loud, someone looking at us the wrong way, being told that it’s Biblical to tithe at least and urged not to act so boorishly toward each other as bad witnesses to Jesus, and other eventually embarrassing examples of selfishness, pettiness, and idolatry.
Yet when elected officials at the highest levels of government read Holy Scripture out of context to herald blasphemies, courts and law enforcement censor and curtail confessions consistent with Jesus by the book, public schools only invite You and Yours back after tragedy as a salve rather than before as the preventive solution, Your prophets are told not to use Your enfleshed name when asked to invoke Your presence and beg Your blessings at public celebrations and dedications, separation of church and state is a one way reality in favor of the state, and so many increasing affronts to Your holiness in number and intensity, we know America is not immune to the tribulations of these end times.
Yes, Lord, we understand by Your example in Jesus and explanations in Holy Scripture that we will be hated and hurt by people who hate and hurt You.
We are not immune to the increasing instances and intensity of persecution as prophesied.
And while we rejoice to suffer for Christ’s sake as we remember those who “endure to the end will be saved,” we beg Your Holy Spirit to encourage the increasingly persecuted of America as well as world to the heaven/paradise – the pure and perfect place of personal peace where there is no more pain or tears forevermore – that awaits as assurance enabling strong calm sanity and peace through the increasingly meantimes.
Thank You for inspiring our hosts for this gathering to overcome the separations, segregations, and fencings of Your people by unchristian traditions and idolatries so we may be as one people under You to look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus in whose saving name we pray.
Here's a rhetorical question for ya.
If people who say they love Jesus by the book in one franchise fence "their" tables from other people who say they love Jesus by the book in other franchises, how will people who don't know Jesus as Lord and Savior ever be convinced by those who say they love Jesus as Lord and Savior yet segregate, separate, and fence themselves from other people who say they love Jesus as Lord and Savior that Jesus overcomes the idolatrous humanisms that segregate, separate, and fence to bring together everyone into one great family of faith through Him as Lord and Savior?
That was complicated and confusing.
Just like franchises pretending to know Jesus by the book who segregate, separate, and fence themselves from...
Oh, I get it.
My translation of the Bible must be wrong.
Theirs says, "Come to Me, everyone, all yu'uns, except for..."
I knew that guy who keeps showing up at games with the John 3:16 poster is nuts.
Blessings and Love!
Monday, November 10, 2014
It took sooooooo many, tooooooo many, years before I learned this about myself.
I may be wrong about...
I am wrong about...
I can be stubbornly wrong about...
Sooooooo much pain, tooooooo much pain, has been caused by me because I haven't just been wrong about...but I've sooooooo often, tooooooo often, been stubbornly wrong about...
That's what happens when we egocentrically reimagine divine revelation apart from Jesus by the book.
I've done it sooooooo many, tooooooo many times because I've been so arrogant about thinking I'm sooooooo right and others are sooooooo wrong: "Ya'll not me have sinned and ya'll not me fall short of..."
Frankly, I don't think I really got that in my gut - it had been swirling around in my noodle for years in an intellectual if not spiritual kinda way - until that apocalyptic moment early one morning in October 2011 while reading Matthew 15 and 23 under Eugene's influence.
The apocalyptic moment.
Jesus said clergy make people twice as fit for hell as they are themselves.
I guess that's why clergy conspired with the state to murder Him.
No wonder Dick Sheppard fought the bishops and said the only thing that separates people from Jesus is the church.
No wonder C.S. Lewis' old demon told the young demon that their best work is done at the steps of the chancel.
The people who said/say they were/are the closest to God did/do their worst to distance themselves and those under their influence from the incarnate God.
The enfleshed God who filled Holy Scripture full of its eternally intended meaning was/is rejected by those, like me, who were/are stubbornly, heinously, murderously wrong about...
Has anything really changed since His ascension?
Or do we still have this instinct - let's call it original sin or total depravity - to descend from the theocentric to the egocentric to the peril of everyone around us.
Since that apocalyptic moment, I've realized why I've had this deep disdain for clergy, like me, in the deepest recesses of my soul.
They/we/I make people twice as fit for...
They/we/I conspire to murder...
I can barely read/recite His sorrow: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...clergy...women and men who say they know Father and Son and Holy Spirit...how often I would have gathered you together as a hen gathers her baby chicks but you..."
I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus.
I've learned to say about most things, "I may be wrong about this; but here's what I think...If I am wrong by the example of Jesus, explanation of Holy Scripture, and common sense, please tell me so I may confess, repent, and honor Him."
I've learned I'm only 100% certain about...Jesus being Lord and Savior.
Annnnnnnd considering all of the below juxtaposed to all of the above, thank God for His forgiveness through faith in Jesus!
Gerry helped me to realize how wrong I have been about...
Whenever anyone has come to me with some of the inane things that some pewsitting and pulpiteering people really care about...[If I have to catalogue 'em for you, you may be among the "some" who've brought 'em to me!]...that bear no consequence to the rise and fall of the kingdom, I've often blurted, "I really don't care about..."
After one of those blurtings in front of Gerry, he corrected me: "Bob, I think you really do care. You care about the people who care too much about the wrong things. But you do care and I know it!"
Being stubborn about being wrong sooooooo often, tooooooo often, I admitted/admit he is right about how I've been wrong.
I really, really, really care about people even when they really, really, really...
I've been refreshed since admitting I was wrong about that.
I've been refreshed since admitting I really, really, really care about mainline and sideline denominations including my own, the left and right and sideways, Democrats and Republicans, Bears and Packers, along with all of the below who really, really, really need, like me, to become more intimate with all of the above.
Annnnnnnd as I get closer to Jesus - and I've got such a long way to go as I'm just scratching the surface of my relationship with Him - I find myself tearing up whenever I read/recite that lament of His over clergy like me.
Maybe that's why my spirit is filled with more sorrow than anger these days.
Dr. Macleod always insisted we never end an essay or paper or book or something homiletical with a quote; but, these days, I'm feeling like the Tin Man: "Now I know I have a heart; because I can feel it breaking."
Blessings and Love!
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
She had been around and in and out of many churches before coming to ours about seven years ago.
She offended a good friend, often mentor, and visionary elder on the corner of Lincoln and Main by referring to me as a jackass.
He came to me and complained about her referring to me as a jackass: "I won't tolerate anyone calling my pastor a jackass."
I said, "Well, uh, while I don't think I'm a total jackass, I think I can be something of a jackass every now and then."
There are three sides to every story: her side, his side, and the truth.
I can be something of a jackass every now and then.
Keep that in mind as you read on.
I had jury duty again on Monday.
Last time was back in 2012; and you can read about it by going to the right column, clicking on 2012, and then clicking on "Jail or Jury Duty for Pastor Bob on September 19."
Haven't changed my mind on much of what I wrote back then; but I've got a few more amplifications along with a strategy for permanent disqualification for ever being called again for jury duty.
We had to report by 9:00 a.m. so we could sit around for about an hour before they showed us a film about the privileges/responsibilities of serving as a juror.
Like church meetings, they hold up everybody else for people who think it's rude to be on time.
I felt patriotic when hearing about other countries that don't have jury systems/opportunities.
Looking around and within, I grew anxious when they talked about the jury-of-peers thing.
I felt kinda important when they said jurors are more important to the judicial system than lawyers and judges; but then noted we were getting $12 a day and $.10 mileage and wondered who they thought they were kidding.
Lots of waiting around.
Then we went home because they didn't need us.
Not to worry.
It's only our tax $ not at work.
I figured there were several reasons why it was a mistake to call me for jury duty; assuming any of 'em would disqualify me:
1. I'm a pastor. I thought that separation of church and state thing would knock me out.
2. I'm a professor. There are people who talk about doing things and people who do more than talk about things. I didn't think they wanted a professional BSer.
3. I'm a police chaplain. I counsel and care for police officers as well as work with and for 'em. If that doesn't make me a bigot on the side of law and order,...
4. I've got this distrust of lawyers; knowing they service whoever's paying 'em without much real regard for truth, justice, and the American way. Kinda reminds me of another profession...
5. I worked on the campaigns for a local judge and the state's attorney. If that doesn't make me a bigot on the side of law and order,...
6. I'm a Christian. Aren't we disqualified from most kinds of public service these days?
7. I can be something of a jackass every now and then.
None of that worked.
Here's my strategy for permanent disqualification for ever being called again for jury duty.
One of the other jurors was wearing a T-shirt that expressed her feelings for the occasion: "Just Another Day in Paradise."
That gave me the idea to get a T-shirt with "Let's Talk About Jesus" on it.
If you make one up for me, I promise to wear it.
I couldn't return on Tuesday to sit around wasting more tax $; so they rescheduled me for December 15.
How about black letters on an orange T or orange letters on a black T?
I will wear a nice blue blazer so as not to appear too contemptuous and maybe, uh, maybe, uh, be permanently disqualified for ever being called again for jury duty.
So what the heaven does this have to do with remnant?
It's all about talking about Jesus whenever and wherever with whomever.
I really want to be held in contempt for that by people who don't love Him by the book.
Annnnnnnd now you also know why I wasn't offended when she referred to me as a jackass.
Things like jury duty and denominational jingoism/idolatry bring out the...in me.
Blessings and Love!