Monday, August 1, 2016
Why I Haven't Left But May Be Forced Out
Why I Haven’t Left But May Be Forced Out
I was ordained on May 8, 1977; which means I’m getting close to celebrating, uh, observing, 40 years of being a clergyman in the PCUSA and its predecessors, uh, unless I’m assassinated or the cancer genes of Grandpa Jacob decide to show up to the delight of people who’ve hated me in a Christian kinda way for tinkling on their ecclesiastical idolatries and talking more about Jesus by the book than the one they’ve made up to enable their religious and ideological infidelities.
While I’ve always used what God has given to me to help people however and whenever I can without any discrimination of any kind if asked and sometimes even if not asked, especially when it comes to writing things that most folks never read, I’ve also made lots of mistakes along the way; and only survived because of God’s promise to me at Ava, Missouri’s Assumption Abbey back in the early 80s in a Psalm 91 kinda way: “Because he loves Me and never fudges or budges on My name, I will deliver him. I will protect him because he’s not going to back down to anyone for anything when it comes to Me. When he calls on Me, I will take care of him. I will be with him when he gets into trouble on his own or with somebody else’s help. I will rescue him because he tries to honor Me. I’ve shown My salvation to him and I’m even going to let him live a long life though he’d rather come home right now like Paul.”
Unless I’m assassinated or get Grandpa Kopp’s cancer, I think I’m going to be around on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois for a lot longer than people who hate me would like; even if I have to get a hip replaced because of my dad’s genes.
Truth is I was born anothen again back in October 2011 during a week with Eugene in Montana and I’m more emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually psyched for life and ministry than ever before; and as Junior said to Bunny in Platoon, paraphrasing a tad, “Your butt follows your head!”
A big question for me is if I’ll die as a clergyman in the PCUSA.
I don’t know.
I know some of those who are making our denomination irretrievably apostate under their management wouldn’t mind if I were assassinated or got cancer – just being honest – and I even had a guy threaten to bring me up on charges for upsetting the peace and unity of the PCUSA for saying we’ve got serous spiritual problems requiring confession and repentance.
Funny, he never said he was going to charge me for trying to encourage greater holiness for Christ’s sake according to the book.
BTW, I’ve always said I may be wrong about what I’ve said and written; and if shown my error by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I’m eager to confess, repent, and beg forgiveness from all of the below as well as all of the above.
It’s happened more than I’d care to admit in the past four decades.
Back to the franchise, I’ve watched many friends leave over the years; and it’s been hard for me to see ‘em go.
Some of them can’t/won’t see why I stay; even though I’ve been consistent about why I stay for about 38 years.
Of course, again, most folks don’t listen to what I say or read what I write; so I guess that’s why.
Quickly, I stay for a few reasons; noting I’m just listing ‘em in no particular order of importance.
*I’m not leaving one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination. They’re all sooooooo human.
*Two years into this gig, I sat with Dr. Hans Evans, pastor of the Coatesville Presbyterian Church in, uh, Coatesville, Pennsylvania’s only hospital as he was dying of cancer and confessed, “I think I’ve made a terrible mistake in becoming a pastor in this denomination. It’s becoming so unfaithful to Jesus, Holy Scripture, and its own Book of Confessions.” He said, “You must stay for two reasons. First, the difference between coal and diamonds is pressure. Second, our denomination is the best mission field open to us today.”
*I don’t run away from fires. I run into them to save as many people as I can for Christ’s sake. Yeah, the PCUSA is going to hell; but I couldn’t live with myself if I stopped salting, shining/exposing, and leavenating it. I try to shatter the sound of silence by looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Jesus in all things at all times in all places with all people.
My heroes – Jesus is God and my personal Lord and Savior which means He can’t be listed with my heroes – are Francis, Luther, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, King, Mother Teresa, Carson, and my dad. They never ran away from the enemies of Jesus. They never ran away from anyone trying to subvert over two thousand years of Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity. They didn’t retreat into monastic comfort zones apart from the world. While never becoming like the world, they dove into it to save it.
*I’ve often thought of myself as a missionary to mainline denominations. That’s my Beruf. I respect those who have different calls and have gone different ways. I’m a warrior in the spirit of Ephesians 6 with specific encouragement from Matthew 5; 10; 13:33; 28; John 10; Acts 1; and related texts.
I’m convinced unless proven otherwise that the PCUSA is irretrievably apostate under current management.
Some say that conclusion is harsh; yet I am convinced the PCUSA will continue its increasingly shameless insults to God’s holiness as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture and upheld by over two thousand years of confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense Christianity for several reasons.
*Ignorance – Some people are just ignorant. They don’t know any better.
*Deception – Baaaaaaahhhh! Baaaaaaahhhh! Some people just wander off into bad stuff and follow the wrong leaders because they’ve stopped paying attention to the Good Shepherd and His undershepherds.
*Defiance – Some people are just irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable.
*Apathy – Some people just don’t care. Give ‘em a six-pack, Dancing with the Stars, and a Bears/Packers game and they’ll be as happy as pigs in slop.
*Conspiracy – Some people are part of the anti-Christ conspiracy to destroy the Church and America built on Jesus by the book.
Caution to ‘em!
Jesus wins in the end; and He promised, “Not even the gates of hell can prevail against the Church.”
I believe God’s deal with Abraham in Genesis 18 is still on the table for America and her churches.
Admittedly, I may be forced out.
The ignorant, deceived, defiant, and apathetic may just stand by and watch as the conspirators finally get their way and compel clergy to advocate and participate in unholy rituals+ceremonies=rites or surrender their credentials and kick ‘em out of the franchise.
Go back to the texts cited above for more on that when it comes to remaining faithfully no matter what, who, where, when, or why.
Remember, I’m a Psalm 91 kinda guy.
No matter how it all comes down, God will take care of me…along with anyone else who doesn’t fudge or budge on Him and won’t/can’t stop salting, shining, leavenating, shattering the sound of silence, looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Jesus by the book.
I trust, if it comes to that, our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois will remain faithful to God and express profoundly authentic sorrow in being forced out.
One more thing.
When I was studying in Germany in the early 70s, I was drinking a non-juvenile beverage on the Hauptstrasse of Heidelberg one night with a fellow bearing a British passport who looked/talked like a member of the PLO.
I said, “You’re such cowards. Killing children and women and non-combatants. You’re savages.”
He said, “You’re studying to be a professor and pastor. So just pray and take care of the people caught in the middle of our war against Israel and everyone who supports it.”
That may be when I decided to run into fires instead of away from them.
I don’t like conflict; but I know we can’t fix what we won’t face.
That night in Heidelberg may be when I decided it’s not enough to bandage the wounded; but we must also do all in our power as graced by God to prevent people from being wounded.
I may be forced out; but it won’t be without…Jesus.
Some things haven’t changed in 40 years.
Blessings and Love!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!