Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Prayer Helps

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    I pray a lot; but I'm not especially gifted at it.

    That was gloriously evident when led in prayer by Ginny Worrell and Karen McCoy.

    Both have gone home to Jesus; yet I often recall being ushered into the presence of God and connected with all of the saints in the deepest recesses of my spirit whenever they led prayer.

    Anyway, I often recall Tony saying two things about prayer.

    When assaulted by somebody who didn't like how he prayed, he said, "Listen, lady, I wasn't talking to you!'

    When someone said he didn't hear God speaking when he prayed, Tony noted, "That's probably because you don't shut up and listen!"

    Not long after May 8, 1977, I was about to lead the congregation in a prayer that I had written for worship and distinctly heard God say to me, "Bob, we went over this on Friday.  Don't you have anything new to talk about today?"

    I learned authentic prayer, really praying or talking to/with God, is not a pre-scripted and practiced performance but rather the privilege of a personal relationship with the Father as guided by the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus.

    That prompted me to jettison the scripted stuff, get real, get current, and take only some notes into the pulpit to guide pastoral prayers.

    I'm not saying scripted prayers are always wrong. 

    The recorded prayers of Francis and Mother Teresa and Bonhoeffer and King and many other gifted prayers like Ginny and Karen will always usher us into the presence of God and connect us with the family of faith if the head, heart, and gut are engaged in the repetition.

    So with that in mind and people always asking for some prayer helps, here are some promptings for the morning, evening, and meals.


Scratching the Surface



(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Increasing Intimacy)


Lord, I begin this day in praise and thanks for You as my Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior…

I know I need Your love, forgiveness, mercy, and empowering to be Yours in all things at all times in all places with all people as exemplified in Jesus, explained in the Bible, and enlightened by Your welcomed presence in my life as Holy Spirit…

I want to honor You through behavior confirming my belief in You as my Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior…

As Your guide for our time together this morning, I read the Bible to increase our communion and discover Your will for my life.  I trust You will tell me when to pause and ponder, ingest, and digest; and how to enflesh this morning’s insights, inspirations, and instructions…

Reminded of my need to confess and repent or conform to Your will as exemplified in Jesus and explained in the Bible to be forgiven and restored to Your best intentions for my life, I admit how I have insulted You and injured others by…pledging to change bad behaviors for good behaviors…and expressing gratitude for Your forgiveness that allows me to forgive myself…

I know the fruit/proof/evidence of our relationship – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness/humility, and self-control – are supernatural by-products of our increasing intimacy…

What I say, what I do, and how I appear will honor You and help others increasingly as I am increasingly close to You…

I ask favors – intercessions for others and personal supplications - for…

I prepare for today’s opportunities, ups, downs, detours, distractions, temptations, joys, sorrows, victories, defeats, and challenges according to Ephesians 6:10-20…

I pray as taught by Jesus: “Our Father…”

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 Before Meals

Lord, this food is a gift from You; providing pleasure and fuel for life.  I thank You for this food along with everything and everyone that minister to my life; reserving highest praise and thanks for Jesus who inspires confident living and guarantees eternal life.  Thank You for sustaining my body and saving my soul through Jesus in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Evening Prayer

As this day draws to a close, I honor You as my Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior…

I am thankful for today’s experiences and expressions of Your favor…

I am sorry for today’s failures…confessing…repenting…receiving Your forgiveness…

I entrust the past, present, and future to You…

I open the Bible for You to have today’s last word…

I trust Your peace and healing as I end as I began the day…

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

This is only a brief and incomplete guide to prayer.

Intimacy with our Lord increases as we increase intimacy
with Him through worship, prayer, Bible study, fasting,
sacrament, silence, stewardship, and regular
fellowship with His family of faith
uncommonly called the


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!







Monday, April 17, 2017

40 + 2 with 25% and Counting in Belvidere

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


May 8, 1977


40 Years Plus 2 with 25% and Counting at Home in Belvidere, Illinois


          Because I didn’t like hearing about people in the Forty Fort United Presbyterian Church (Pennsylvania) having my first mentor and pastor The Rev. Harold F. Mante for lunch and rationalizing their infidelities at the expense of him sacrificing health and family for them, I wanted to shed “The Rev” for “Doctah” and be a professor of homiletics.

          Dr. Felmeth made me take a church in Delaware, New Jersey (Delaware Presbyterian Church) as a seminary middler and unordained student pastor – called a “temporary supply” back then in keeping with the increasing organizational secularization of the franchise – to prove he was right and I was wrong about my beruf.

          2 years.

          While I’ve served off and on as an adjunct homiletics professor for two seminaries but not mine which doesn’t bother me because of the Barnes-Keller betrayal of its academic and spiritual roots, I’ve had “credentials” – another bend forward to the increasing organizational secularization of the franchise – since May 8, 1977.

          I’ll never forget that afternoon that started the last four decades.

          Jackie Kanter and Richie Kaufer, among my five closest friends before college and the rest, came to my ordination and confessed secret affinities to what it meant; while Richie Grossman called and said, “Bobby, I can’t come to, uh, whatever it is is happening to you today.  Tell me, Bobbbbbbby, do you really believe all of that Jesus stuff?”  “Well, Richie,” I replied, “I am getting ordained; so I guess I’m kinda into it.”

          While I have no doubts about God’s providence in my life in every respect and relationship, echoing the certainties of the apostle in Romans 8:28, not taking the time to talk about Jesus to Richie that or any day remains one of my greatest regrets which is a euphemism for sins.

          Getting back to that afternoon, my mom kept embarrassing me by telling everybody that I was going to be the next P of my alma mater; and looking at the last few Ps, I now understand that as a prophetic insult.

          Paul Watermulder preached from Genesis 12 and supporting texts.

Essentially, he said, “Go where God tells you to go and everything will work out.”

          He was right in a Genesis 12:3, 15:1, and Psalm 91 collective prophetic promise; and, along with Matthew 10:16, remain SOP pour moi.

          “Rev. Mante” – that’s what we called him despite being told that’s not how we’re supposed to address ‘em and that’s one of the reasons why I got another advanced degree because I thought “reverend” assumed too much when it came to me and, besides, I knew people would end up calling me lots of things like everyone before and after me as a vocational hazard – charged me; and though I forget his text, his counsel has guided me in better moments: “Be slow!  Be steady!  Be solid!”

          Then I spent the next two decades like the ones before that proving God chooses least likely candidates for ministry – check out the Bible for more on that – and reached every one of my egotistically inflated “professional” goals and climbed to the top of the ecclesiastical ladder of success before reaching 32 only to discover I was leaning against the wrong building.

          I’ve written about those wilderness days in a few books that nobody’s read; and if anybody did, I’d probably be selling insurance in Idaho.

          Brad Long, one of the fellows who helped me out of the wilderness without even knowing it, has often said everyone experiences the wilderness but not everyone survives/overcomes it.

          Because of my family and friends but most especially being a Psalm 91 kinda guy, I survived and I’m still, uh, uh, uh,…whatever.

          Against the advice of several folks in Blackhawk Presbytery and especially one officer who predicted I wouldn’t last two years in Belvidere because it was a war zone upon arrival with inheritances that would shake Samson without Delilah and gave new meaning to Sheol and because I had a record of telling churches where to go after they proved disinterested in going where He wanted them to go and leaving other churches with dear, dear, dear saints because my egotistical professional ambitions blurred my vision to the opportunities to grow together in Jesus and glow together for Jesus with sacrifices of true love that I truly regret, I’m well into my second decade of ministry on the corner of Lincoln and Main and won’t leave and will never retire unless I’m assassinated by an Islamofascistnutball or somebody who’s still mad at me for taking the church away from them and giving it back to Jesus, my Grandpa Kopp’s cancer genes take over, or the minority in our church like every church who hates the undershepherd becomes the majority.

          Though I’ll break a new year’s resolution by saying this, I am “home” in life and ministry in Belvidere and Boone County, Illinois despite missing my mom, dad, sister, and the best pizza on the planet.

          That’s a quick summary of an imperfect man, undershepherd, husband, father, son, and brother.

          I’ve never hidden that; well, O.K., I don’t like to talk about some parts.

          “What’s that I see in your eye?”

          But if someone really wants some dirt, I’ll spoon-feed ‘em so they don’t have to dig it up.

          Jesus was right.

          Some people like darkness more than light.

          I think I’ve always been pretty good at counseling because I don’t pretend to be any better or any worse than anyone else who needs Jesus to save them no more nor no less than me.

          Anyway, at this point, there’s always someone feeling a little uncomfortable by me using myself as an illustration of what I think are important lessons; though I think I’ve been better at the truth that’s more self-deprecating than some people who do what I do who pretend to be better than God…and others…know.

          Yeah, there’s always a charge of narcissism or some other lame name-calling to pigeonhole and blow off; because whenever anyone’s too confessional, it strikes too close to home and even pewbelts aren’t secure enough to squelch squirming.

          Yet, I’ve always believed in testimonies; for the most persuasive pointing to Jesus as Lord and Savior is when we communicate who Jesus is for us with the exciting news of who He can be for them.

          To paraphrase the apostle, “If Jesus can save a wretch like Bob Kopp who’s really messed up a lot in his life, you’ve got a chance!  Why do you think God called Bob Kopp into ministry?  To be like other pastors who hide their humanity in need of His saving divinity?  To pretend he’s better than anybody else because he used to wear those stupid vestments that Jesus ridiculed in Matthew 23?  No, if God can save him, anybody, including you, can make it!”

          Parenthetically, that’s why “Rev. Mante” always greeted everyone, “Keep the faith!  Blessings on you!”  When I asked what he meant, he said, “Stick close to Jesus who is the only one who can save someone like you who doesn’t deserve to be saved!”

          Besides, before I was a part-time homiletics professor, I had a homiletics professor who always quoted Brooks, “The best preaching is truth through personality.”  Then he’d say, “Nobody cares what Cyril of Jerusalem said.  They care about what you’ve got to say and what Jesus has done for you and can do for them.” Or as I heard a Newark radio preacher screaming on the radio late one night while heading back to the seminary from the church, “The only gospel that some folks will ever hear or see is the gospel according to you and me!”

          I guess I could go on and on and on; but yielding to our cyberspaced-out and sound-byte attention span, I’ll wrap this up.

          I have lots of regrets; but no doubts about God’s providence in my life.

          Frankly, I’m surprised to be alive this long; and you can take that anyway that you’d like.

          I really, really, really relate to Bullinger, whose confession should be included in every book of ‘em, when he said, in effect, “God has used me in spite of me.”

          Paraphrasing Gump’s observation of Lieutenant Dan, I don’t know when/how it happened – so many people and churches and friends and family and foes but especially God have factored in – but I’ve finally found peace and home for the last half of the first four decades.

          Maybe that’s why I’m so energized and determined for/about the future.

          Let me put it another way.

          Somewhere along the way I got what He gave: “Don’t store up treasures here on earth…Store up treasures in heaven…Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.”

          Read the rest of that text and context; starting with Matthew 6:19-34 and then absorbing all of the red letters.

          That’s the path, as Oswald Chambers liked to say, to strong calm sanity or living victoriously/triumphantly/confidently amid the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world.

          I’ve got a long way to go and maybe that’s why retirement has never been on my radar; especially since that week with Eugene back in October 2011 when I was born anothen again.

          When I look at my calendar (How do I spend my time?), checkbook (How do I spend my money?), church (How involved am I?), confession (What I say!), conduct (what I do!), countenance (How I appear!), and chums (Good and bad and tempting!), I know I’ve got a loooooooonnnnnnnng way to go.

          But you know if you know Him, that’s the point.

          Everybody needs Jesus to save them.

          No exceptions to the need; and, praise Him, no exceptions to His grace through faith in Jesus.

          Everybody will have an epitaph.

          I hope this will be mine: “He loved Jesus and loved people enough to point them to Jesus as Lord and Savior.”

          Everybody has a signature.

          Mine comes at the end of every worship service: “Continue in God’s peace through Jesus!  Love God and be kind to one another!  Remember, the answer to every question is Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!”





Blessings and Love!


Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!








Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Resurrection of Jesus

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface


Easter Days

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!


Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!







Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Most Famous Last Words

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface


The Seven Last Words of Jesus

I’ve often repeated, “What’s deep in the well comes up in the bucket.”

That’s especially true for folks knocking on heaven’s door.

People tend to say what they really mean when they don’t have much time left to say it.

It’s very, very, very sad for people who do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Their last words are often filled with inconsolable fear about what happens the first nano-second after the last breath.

While I would never judge anyone’s eternity – only God knows that – some folks look and talk and act so desperately to hang onto this life that it can make one wonder if they really believe in heaven/paradise; causing me to well up with tears of pity for anyone who faces the inevitable like Elizabeth I: “All of my possessions for one more moment of time.”

Conversely, people who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior face eternity unafraid; bringing President Andrew Jackson’s last words to mind: “Please don’t cry for me or yourselves, dear children, for we will all meet in heaven.”

My next-to-favorite last words come from my grandfather Hayden Phillips who died on May 18, 1984.

Just a few days before he passed on from here to eternity, he called from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania’s General Hospital to say he was going home to Jesus; and I said as a young pastor in Kansas City at the time, “Grandpa, I’m going to fly out to be with you, talk about some old times, and pray with you.”  Calmly with a chuckle that helped me to remember his smile, he said firmly yet gently, “That’s not necessary.  When I die, you will come and preside at the service; and then I’ll see you later.”

My favorite last words are the seven last words of Jesus from the cross; because what Jesus said about who He is and what He has done for us caused my grandfather’s strong calm sanity at the end of his life as preface to something with Someone much, much, much more heavenly.

According to Holy Scripture, these are the seven last words of Jesus:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  This is among the most unpredictably astounding things that Jesus ever said.  He is asking Father God not to hold the torturous and murderous sins of everyone culpable for His passion and death against them; but rather to forgive them as ignorant.  How often we have heard, “Ignorance is no excuse.”  One of our Lord’s last words disagrees with that sentiment.  There is no way on earth for us to understand such forgiveness.  All we can do is praise and thank Him for “love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

2. “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Jesus said that to a criminal dying next to Him who was saved for paradise, as Jesus described heaven, at the last minute.  Yes, foxhole religion is real.  We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus no matter who, what, where, when, or why; even if that faith is expressed just before the last exhale.  While waiting that long forfeits the “good” of participating in life created by Him as “good,” the pure and perfect place of personal peace where there is no more crying or pain or tears anymore is forever and ever and ever for anyone who places trust and confidence in Jesus even if it’s with only one tick left on the clock.

3. “Woman, behold your son!…Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27).  Even while He was suffering so horrifically, Jesus remained concerned for the comfort, care, safety, security, and welfare of His family.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote extensively, Jesus was truly, truly, truly the “man for others.”  Of course, He embraced the predestination of His crucifixion and death as the inexplicable cost of our eternal salvation enabling our confident living from now until then.

4. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).  Rather than questioning God or suggesting the Father had abandoned the Son, Jesus was quoting Psalm 22.  The psalm is about moving through suffering to triumph.  The psalm acknowledges existential pain then praises God for eternal security.  Jesus was expressing confidence in His movement from the moment of crucifixion and death to resurrection and reign.  By quoting this psalm, Jesus acknowledged His suffering for us as preface to glorious victory for/with us.

5. “I thirst” (John 19:28).  Again, Jesus suffered; yet the bigger meaning is the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies in Psalms 22:15 and 69:21 in concert with Isaiah 53.  Just as Jesus predicted His passion, crucifixion, death, resurrection, and reign in great detail as evidenced throughout the New Testament, every Messianic prophecy of the Old Testament is fulfilled in Him beginning with His incarnation as Emmanuel.

6. “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” (Luke 23:46).  Akin to the trust and confidence of Psalms 46, 62, and so many others, Jesus, as reflected throughout His life and ministry, is the perfect enfleshment of strong calm sanity.  His total dependence upon Father God as incarnate Son is the perfect illustration of Matthew 5:3.

7. “It is finished” (John 19:30).  The deal has been sealed by Jesus.  The price has been paid and the glory is hours away!  God’s plan of salvation has been completed by Jesus.  I think of the missionary who was asked, “What must I do to be saved?’  Answer: “Too late!  Jesus has already done it for us!”  No more nor no less than Jesus is needed for wholeness, happiness, joy, safety, and eternal security.  Saved by grace through faith in Him, we live confidently until moving with Him from here to eternity.

Our Lord’s seven last words have often been described by seven summary words: (1) Forgiveness; (2) Salvation; (3) Relationship; (4) Abandonment; (5) Distress; (6) Reunion; and (7) Triumph.

In short, Jesus saves!

Sooner or later for everyone without exception, last words are uttered.

Having loved people enough to tell them about Jesus and what He has done for us by grace through faith, I’m expecting mine will be, “Thank You, Jesus!”


Blessings and Love!


Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!







Sunday, April 2, 2017


Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)




“Face it, Flounder!  You ___’ed up!  You trusted us!”

Otter to Flounder in Animal House


          Maybe it was memorizing the BSA motto as a Tenderfoot – “Be Prepared!” – and getting a little blue NRA wallet certificate for rifle safety as required for the merit badge…or maybe it was that scene in Animal House…or maybe it was reading MLK, Jr.’s “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart” in Strength to Love after doing some exegesis on the “rod and staff” in Psalm 23 juxtaposed to Matthew 10 and John 10…or maybe it was that night about 30 years ago at McD’s on Troost in KCMO when I didn’t do anything when I could have stopped a stick-up by not playing pseudo-innocent bystander and continue to have nightmares about the faces of those children filled with fear and dread because no one stepped up to protect them from savages…or maybe it was…

          Maybe it was Jimmy Carruthers.  Jimmy was the toughest guy in Forty Fort High School.  He was a senior and I was in 8th grade when he taught a lesson to me that remains a lot more valuable than those French classes with Miss Pettibone though she was a real…

          Let me explain.

Everybody from 7th through 12th grades were in the same building back then before consolidating into Wyoming Valley West; and Jimmy kinda liked or endured me because I delivered the morning papers to his family.

Well, another senior, Don Houck, hated me for some reason.  While you may some suggestions, I mean his family wasn’t even on my paper route.  But he hated me; and one day as I just got on my bike to ride home, he straddled my front tire and said he was going to beat the ___ out of me.

Before he knew what hit him, Jimmy swept in, pulled him off my bike, and beat the ___ out of him.

Don Houck never bothered me after that.

Actually, he kinda ran away whenever he saw me.

Getting back to the knockout, I’ll never forget Jimmy saying to me after he didn’t play pseudo-innocent bystander, “I am going to teach you how to fight.  So the next time, you’ll be able to take care of yourself; and just like I did for you, you will help someone someday who is getting picked on by some bigger ___.”

Jimmy didn’t use the word “bully” back then; but I think that is what he meant.

I think he was telling me that I needed to learn how to fight not only to protect myself but to protect the more vulnerable and weaker and afraid and naïve from bullies.

So while I don’t know what or who it was for sure – O.K., looking back and now and into the future, I think it was God – I’ve never liked bullies.

I’ve never liked predators.

As that thought to conviction to passion to practice has evolved, I’ve taken on the lion as my favorite symbol for caring for family, friends, and others.  Coupling it with Psalm 23, Matthew 10, John 10, and everything that Jimmy Carruthers taught me back in 8th grade along with other influences along the way, I’ve taken that BSA motto and built upon it so I can not only pick up my rod and staff to guide and nurture gently but also to beat away and, if necessary, beat down bullies and predators.

It’s a calling.

It’s the calling that keeps America safe.

It’s the calling that keeps the innocents and non-combatants and naïve and non-Biblical pacifists and the oblivious-to-danger safe.

Most people can’t keep themselves safe.

They need somebody else to do it for them.

They need undershepherds to the Good Shepherd who are willing to
to pick up their rods and staffs to guide, nurture, beat away and, if necessary, beat down bullies and predators.

If you have that calling, this one’s for you.

It means you’ve heard His call to undershepherding.

It means you’ve followed His lead and made this decision: “I will give up my life voluntarily to save the sheep from wolves.”

If it’s not your calling and it’s so obviously not for most people who cower in the face of threat and wish it/them away and even recoil at those who pick up the sword and shield and rod and staff and…to protect them as if the undershepherds are as bad as the wolves, it’s important for you to know about that calling because it’s necessary to protect and beat away and, if necessary, beat down people who are so vulnerable to bullies and predators.

Even if you’re not called to take on the wolves in this world, you’ve got to acknowledge the need for undershepherds because, as Jesus warned as well as counseled, bullies and predators are always hiding and hovering around to pounce upon the sheep and “ravage” them.

I guess it’s true: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

I’m called to be an undershepherd; and I think that’s been confirmed by me doing it since ordained to it on May 8, 1977.

While I’ve made a lot of mistakes and sinned a lot along the way and have never hidden my humanity in need of His saving divinity, I’ve become more and more and more convinced that the old BSA motto is increasingly important in these days of increasing assaults by the wolves at their master’s command.

March 6 and 28, 2017 come to mind.

The Belvidere Starbucks was robbed at gunpoint on March 6 at 9:49 p.m.

Two males in hoodies just came in, pointed their handguns at the cashier and left with cash mostly from the jar of tips.

I confess I loathe bullies and predators.

I’m like that Buddhist from that renowned religion of pacifism who said shortly after 9/11 that he’d have no problem pulling the trigger on somebody like Osama bin Laden.

I’m like Bonhoeffer, that gentle Lutheran pastor and professor who conspired to assassinate Hitler and hung for it, who said it’s not enough for Christians to bandage the wounds of those victimized by a madman who’s gotten behind the wheel of a motorcar but to do everything in their power to remove the madman from the wheel of the motorcar.

When my wife and I go shopping – rather when she goes shopping and I stay in the car – I often say I hope one of those demonic dirtbags who victimize old ladies and men in parking lots come to our car while I’m waiting for her; not because I’m looking for a fight but because I’d rather they take on me than someone who isn’t prepared or inclined or called to beat away and beat down wolves, bullies, and predators.

Indeed, undershepherds live to take on wolves.

Anyway, I was in that same Belvidere Starbucks on March 28.

I arrived about 8:00 p.m. because I had to pick up my wife at the airport around midnight and I knew I needed some caffeine to make it.

Two cops came in after me.

We waved then greeted each other because I’m one of their chaplains.

I sat where I always do – where I can see everybody coming in and going out and nobody can sneak in behind me.

The two cops sat in similar position in another part of the shop.

Situational awareness.

While it’s not PC to profile, everybody does it along with lawyers who often complain about it in lawsuits but do it shamelessly and intelligently and necessarily when assembling a jury.

Really, when was the last time that a Welsh Presbyterian committed a terrorist act while yelling Allie-Akbie-Walleye-Illie-Weebie-Chili-Beebie something?

So this guy comes in who fits every profile of a miscreant.

He walks around and cases the joint.

I timed him at just under 60 seconds.

He sees the cops.

He sees me and we lock eyes because I’m not afraid because I’m prepared and inclined and called.

Immediately, after walking around the whole place and seeing us, he asks one of the cashiers, “Where’s the washroom?”

Really, I mean there’s a gas station and WalMart just around the corner where it’s a lot easier to drop a load and move on.

Well, that guy who didn’t look or act anything like Taylor Swift or Beyonce or their gender counterparts must have the quickest metabolism in the world because he went into and out of the washroom in less that 10 seconds and left while looking at the cops and me.

The cops were alert and ready.

I think I was alert and ready.

Everybody else in the place was oblivious.

Get it?

There are lots and lots and lots of sheep in the world…and wolves.

Fortunately, there are undershepherds who are willing to step up to the plate and bat away the wolves before they ravage the sheep.

Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, a movie based on a book about legendary Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle, includes one of the best expositions – frankly, I’ve never encountered anything better in any book or with any professor – of Psalm 23, Matthew 10, John 10 and related undershepherding texts; especially in the lesson/warning/counsel of Wayne Kyle to his sons: “There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs.  Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world…they…[don’t]…know how to protect themselves.  Those are the sheep…Then you’ve got the predators who use violence to prey on the weak…wolves…and then there are those blessed…with an overpowering need to protect the flock…who live to confront the wolf…sheepdogs.”

About seven or eight years ago, I talked with a patriot in Sundance, Wyoming.  We talked about those around the world and even in America who would destroy us.  Then he said something to me that I will never forget about the need for undershepherds to be prepared and inclined to fulfill His call in their lives.  While the actual figures can be debated, he was persuasive: “Always remember that only 3% of the Colonists were actively involved in the American Revolution.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd who guides and protects the flock.

Jesus has called undershepherds to model their guiding and protecting after Him.

          Undershepherds care more about the safety, health, and welfare of others than themselves.

          They get it from Him: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming.  He will leave the sheep because they aren’t his and he isn’t their shepherd.  And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.  The hired hand runs away because he is merely hired and has no real concern for the sheep…[but]…I lay down my life for the sheep…I lay down my life voluntarily…I want to do it because my Father has given this command to me.”

          I guess it all comes down to this.

          Sheep aka most people are oblivious.

          There are bullies and predators and wolves in the world.

          Undershepherds intercede by the call of God to prevent the bad guys from bruising, beating, and butchering the good guys.

          Thank God for those prepared, inclined, and called to be obedient because, without them, the wolves run wild.

          The only way to insure safety and security for sheep is for those undershepherds to risk theirs.

          “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free?  No, there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me!”

          It’s an old hymn with a saving reminder from the Master: “If anyone is going to follow Me, that person must deny self, pick up the cross, and, then, follow Me.”


Blessings and Love!


Salt! Shine! Leavenate!
Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!