Friday, March 27, 2015
Scratching the Surface
Every Sunday is Easter Day!
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 lot!
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 heart!’
Because Jesus 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.
Every day is Easter Day!
Blessings and Love!
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
These are tender times in the PCUSA.
If I have to explain that to you, you must live in Colorado; or you're one of those State Department spokeswomen who remind me of Leslie Nielsen's Lieutenant Frank Drebin standing in front of the exploding fireworks store saying so stupidly, "Nothing to see here!" (The Naked Gun, 1988).
Parenthetically, if you're willing to descend from the ozone layer of reality and catch up with what's really going on, just go to www.churchandworld.com, www.pcusa.org, and www.layman.org and read up on a denomination going down the toilet quicker than poop through a goose.
C'mon, I thought that was funny.
Of course, I benefit from one of the side effects of increasing intimacy with Jesus: living joyfully amid the meanness, madness, misery, and migraines caused by...
Folks from the way left who have so much "more light" on Christianity than Jesus by the book that they keep "reimagining" fidelity by their loins and folks from the way right who betray angst claiming righteous indignation over increasing infidelities apart from Jesus by the book as if God isn't sovereign and final arbiter don't understand living joyfully regardless because they spend sooooooo much more time navel-gazing about stuff than...
Be that as it is, statistics don't lie.
Yeah, people lie about statistics when they use their ideological hermeneutics to interpret 'em.
Buuuuuuut statistics don't lie and the PCUSA, like all other mainliners that have moved to the sidelines of religious relevancy in America, is dying.
I leave the interpretation of why to the ideological filter that softens your, uh, blow.
As for me, I think I know why the PCUSA is dying.
God has removed its lampstand in a letters to the churches of Revelation kinda way.
I may be wrong; but that's what I think. Annnnnnnd if you can show me how I'm wrong by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I'll confess, repent, and even publicize my error/sin; buuuuuuut if you're gonna try to convince me through politically correct yet emotionally/intellectually/spiritually absurd gymnastics, go back to your wacky weed and...
You're gonna think what you wanna think.
That's why we're in such a mess.
Everybody's word is as good as anybody else's word in the PCUSA these days regardless of correspondence to 2K+ years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, traditional, historical, and common sense Christianity.
Truth is the PCUSA, again, like most other mainliners and just about all other pseudo-Christian clubs, determines/declares/defines morality/fidelity/righteousness by the most recent popular vote; forgetting, sooooooo sadly not to mention ominously, that's what those more-light-reimagining Christians in Germany did to enable Nazism.
With that as context juxtaposed to a Biblical understanding of remnant - being in the minority of women and men still trying to honor Jesus by the book - here's how I'm gonna try to keep our particular regional judicatory (viz., Blackhawk Presbytery) from going Kenyonesque on women and men of faith who still pray and labor to honor Jesus by the book.
Parenthetically (2), if you don't know what "remnant" is all about, just pull out a concordance, read, pray, digest, and enflesh if, uh, you're still into, uh, Him. Annnnnnnd if you don't know what "Kenyonesque" means, go to the archives of www.koppdisclosure.com (right column) and click on the March 2015 entries about it concomitant to more context in www.churchandworld.com, www.pcusa.org, and www.layman.org.
Here's how I'm gonna try to combat the Kenyonesque demons as part of a Biblical, confessional, constitutional, traditional, historical, and common sense commitment to remaining faithfully rather than running away or swallowing/enabling/accommodating the irretrievable apostasies under current management:
1. As chairman of the presbytery's nominating committee for at least another year, I will do my best to make sure all nominations to presbytery committees/commissions/whatevers do not include anyone with an ideological axe to grind;
2. I will be especially vigilant when it comes to committees/commissions/whatevers of consequence; and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you must live in Colorado;
3. I will ask nominating committee members to review our presbytery's overwhelming commitment to not going Kenyonesque at our stated meeting on 11/11/14 at Oregon, Illinois' Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center with all nominees and ask if they embrace/endorse it;
4. If a nominee gives any indication of going Kenyonesque, I will recommend the person not be asked to serve in our presbytery; and
5. If the nominating committee decides to nominate anyone who gives any indication of going Kenyonesque, I will provide a minority report to the presbytery and ask the presbytery to reject such nominations; again, citing our commitment on 11/11/14: "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."
Of course, if the franchise goes officially/constitutionally Kenyonesque, all bets are off.
If the franchise goes Kenyonesque, it will be interesting, though sad by inevitability, to see if the left of Blackhawk Presbytery will be as defiant in upholding the 11/11/14 declaration as it has been in defying previous "standards" of the franchise and if the right will have the guts to go to the cross with Jesus if the Kenyonesquers come after 'em.
Blessings and Love!
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Lent Letter to Disciples
“Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
And immediately they left their nets and followed Him…
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane…
He said, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’
He came back and found the disciples sleeping.
While He was still speaking, Judas came,
one of the twelve, and with him a great
crowd with swords and clubs…
They seized Him.
Then all of the disciples left Him and fled…
Peter denied Him three times.
They said, ‘We had hoped He was the one.’
[Proving He was the one, Jesus rose from the dead!]
[The disciples were transformed from cowards into missionaries!]
He said to His disciples, ‘Go and make disciples…baptize…teach…
I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Our Master said, “A true friend will die for you. There is no greater love. I am your friend.”
Then He proved it by loving us to death.
You did not return the favor.
When given the chance, you deserted and denied Him.
It happens all the time.
It started in the garden; and there’s been nothing original about sin ever since.
I’ve often joked, as I did in my letter to the crowd, “If I die on Monday, there will be ham and cole slaw in Fellowship Hall on Wednesday; then there will be a congregational meeting on Sunday to elect a search committee for my successor with folks lined up who want to help pick the kinda pastor that they really wanted before I showed up.”
I know I’ve been a disappointment to the people that I’ve been willing to love to death.
I think of a little boy who I asked to pray a long time ago. He said, “I think the best way to pray is like you pray before you preach; so I’m gonna begin with your sin-stained life.”
I didn’t stop him because he was telling/praying the truth.
But God knows He never did anything to deserve your desertion and denial: “He was despised…rejected…a man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…not esteemed…pierced…crushed…oppressed…afflicted…like a lamb that is led to the slaughter…cut off…stricken…although He had done no violence, and there was no deceit in His mouth.”
To the contrary, He loved us to death: “He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Frankly, I don’t get why you didn’t get it/Him.
When He called you to follow Him, you did.
You left home and work to follow Him.
Mark says you answered His call immediately.
There must have been something about Him that persuaded you.
The miracles, healings, exorcisms, signs, and wonders came later.
It didn’t take much convincing at the start to get you going with Him.
I don’t know.
It’s been said tough times expose but don’t build character; and when the tough times came, you were exposed as fair-weather fans not followers in a feet-do-your-duty-I’m-outta-here kinda way.
Sooooooo while I may not know why you followed Him at first, it’s pretty easy to figure out why you stayed with Him for a few years. It had to be those miracles, healings, exorcisms, signs, wonders, and promises of paradise after cashing in.
Annnnnnnd it’s pretty easy to figure out why you deserted and denied Him.
When the going got tough and He didn’t put up a fight and just surrendered like a lamb led to slaughter, you got going as far away from Him as possible.
You knew all about guilt by association; and His brutal arrest, torture, and hideous execution were enough for you to renounce citizenship in His Kingdom.
Obviously, you were thrilled by the good times; paying no attention when He said He had to suffer as part of the saving plan.
Annnnnnnd when He said a servant is not above his master and that you/I/we would have to suffer like Him to gain goodies after life with Him, that made no sense to you.
You took the rewards but were not willing to pay the cost of discipleship: “When Christ calls, He bids, ‘Come and die with Me.’”
You were like so many of today’s versions of you – fans not followers.
That sounds strange.
Buuuuuuut that’s how strange it seems to me and people like me who can’t figure out how you could have been sooooooo close to Him for sooooooo long and see sooooooo much and hear sooooooo much and experience sooooooo much and not realize He wasn’t kidding when He said the cross is the prerequisite to wearing the crown: “If anyone wants to follow Me, that person must deny self, take up a cross, and then follow Me. You must lose your life for Me to get life from Me. If you die with/for Me, You will live forever with Me.”
How did you miss that/Him?
What the anything-but-heaven was wrong with you?
You were sooooooo dense, sooooooo ungrateful, soooooo…
I’ve got to stop writing.
There’s a voice calling somewhere in the distance.
Someone is trying to say something to me.
It’s…Him: “What’s that I see in your eye?”
“What’s that I see in your eye?”
Oh, uh, yeah, Ooooooookaaaaaaay, I confess…
I was baptized.
I completed Confirmation Class.
I became a member.
I…deserted you when I…
I…denied you when I…
It’s true: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
He loved us to death; but it/He wasn’t enough to convince us to follow Him through the cross to the crown.
He had to do something supernaturally spectacular to convince us to follow Him through the cross to the crown.
He beat death!
His resurrection convinced you/me/us to follow Him all the way.
His resurrection convinced you/me/us to endure whatever in time to live with Him forever.
Like you, His first disciples, we started well when we decided to follow Him.
Like you, His first disciples, we’ve often lost His way along the way.
Like you, His first disciples, we can finish well if we really, really, really believe in Him as incarnated, crucified, risen, and reigning Lord.
I guess I’ve/we’ve learned at least three things from You, Lord.
First, You don’t play favorites. Anybody can be a part of Your family as long as they love You. The disciples prove You don’t care about color, class, or culture. All you care about is making the decision to be Yours.
Second, even good starts don’t guarantee smooth sailing. Except for You, nobody’s perfect and everybody needs Your salvation from desertions and denials. Thanks!
Third, the most important thing in time is to finish well because how we finish lasts forever. The criminal dying next to You as You died comes to mind; as he confessed You as Lord and heard what every disciple, first or last, will hear in the end: “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.”
Getting back to you, disciples, maybe the thing I like best about you sounds kinda selfish; but, really, it’s what you taught best.
If you can be saved, there’s hope for anyone…even me.
Part of the Family
Blessings and Love!