Friday, June 22, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms 11

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface of the Psalms

#11

“Panic to Peace and Flight to Fight”

When I arrived on the corner of Lincoln and Main sooooooo long ago, I felt an unshakably strong call that I’ve repeated ad nauseum.

We are called to build upon the best of the past for a better future.

We are called to model Someone better.

We are not called to idolize or criticize or be content about the past.

It’s over.

Longing for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more inhibits future fidelity by chains to wineskins of the past that are fixed, brittle, inflexible, rigid, and incapable of ingesting the refreshing neuer wein of opportunity and charismata for incarnational ministries confirming intimacy with Jesus by the book.

Uh, simply, we are called to become increasingly faithful to Jesus by the book and, ergo, model Someone better.

I like how Chance the Rapper explained ameliorating human evolution fueled by spiritual evolution or increasing intimacy with Jesus by the book: “All of us have a responsibility to be greater than the people who came before us.  We have a responsibility to be not as good as them, but to actually surpass them.”

How about this metaphor?

God who isn’t dead and is alive and active among people who believe in Him and want to behave like they believe in Him move with Him from number two lead pencil lives to supernatural technologies.

Intimate with Him, we are related incarnations of Him; or as Paul explained what happens supernaturally to believers, “It is no longer I who live but it is Jesus living in and through me.”

Like Jesus, we are involved in the world around us; salting, shining, and leavenating.

Again, simply, we walk the talk of Jesus.
That came to mind as I talked to my mom on 12 June 2018.

A little context before getting to the conversation.

With thanks to Nancy Heuer and Jim Wyatt for telling me about the fun and financial benefits of shopping at your local Salvation Army Family Store, I hit the one in Wilkes-Barre whenever I’m visiting my parents and sister in Pennsylvania.

A little after 10 a.m. on the 12th, I was standing in line at the store behind a fellah who was becoming quite animated in his verbal abuse of the cashier and her special needs assistant while claiming he did not change price tags for his intended purchases.

Anyone who knows my heart for God’s children with special needs along with an aggressively assertive sheepdogging beruf when it comes to wolves can guess how I reacted: “Perdon, amigo, pero do we need to have a chat about this outside?”

Bullies are bullies only when they’re getting away with being bullies.

Quickly, he backed down, paid as the clothing was priced, and went away.

I apologized to the cashier and found my reward in her assistant’s smile and surrender of her hand to be shaken.

When I told my mom about it, she scolded, “You’re always looking for problems and someday you’re going to get into real trouble.”

While I’ve learned over the years that it’s pret’ near impossible to win an argument with a parent or, uh, wife, I’ve also decided there are times when you go ahead and tinkle in the wind even if no one is interested in being baptized by the truth: “Mom, I don’t go looking for problems.  You don’t have to look for problems.  They’re all around us.  You just have to decide if you’re going to risk being the solution.  I’ve told you before that I’d rather die for what’s right than have my sons live with a coward.  One of the biggest problems in America today is decent people are allowing savages to run wild.”

My mom rolled her eyes and we went for pizza.

Let’s be clear.

Crystal.

Problems are everywhere.

We decide if we’re going to pray and try to be the Godly response.

Or as Belvidere’s faithful pastor Dan Pope of Open Bible Church likes to say, “I’ve never tried to be controversial.  I don’t have to try.  The truth is controversial.”

We decide if we’re going to enable what’s wrong and rotting or pray and try to be God’s antidote.

Failing to do the right thing (omission) is as bad as doing the wrong thing (commission).

That’s what Jesus said: “As you do good things for others, you do good things for Me; and as you do not do good things for others, you do not do good things for Me.”

James: “For the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin…If a brother or sister is in need and you say, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and take care of yourself,’ but don’t help them, what good is that?  Faith without works is dead.”

I’ll never forget one of the most penetratingly poignant, sobering, convicting, and convincing moments in my life.

During a session meeting of Kansas City’s Second Presbyterian Church, a perky and politically correct elder demanded more than asked, “Dr. Kopp, aren’t you going to do something about Rod being caught on camera while protesting at the abortion clinic?”

Before I could respond, elder Ted Horowitz said calmly, “Elaine, I am so proud of Pastor Bakker for having the moral and Christian courage to protest against those who would murder innocent human life.  I just wish there were believers like him along the railroad tracks to Auschwitz when my grandparents were being carted off to incineration.”

Psalm 11 is about moving from panic to peace and from flight to fight as a supernatural by-product of intimacy with our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

David probably wrote this prayer-song while Saul and his army were chasing him through the wilderness and closing in on him; while his friends were encouraging him to run away and save his own skin: “Escape to the mountain like a bird!”

As a man of God – intimate with Him and determined to incarnate faith-filled behavior for Him – David exuded peace not panic: “I have taken refuge in the Lord…The Lord is righteous.  He loves righteous deeds.  The upright will see His face.”

As we’ve heard many times, tough times don’t build character.  Tough times reveal character; and when things got tough, David got tougher.

Instead of running away from fires to save himself, he ran into fires to save others as honoring God; instead of taking flight from his foes, he fought for his/His family of faith.

Hence, the question is rhetorical: “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?  The bottom’s dropped out of the country.  What do we do now?”

Clearly, David modeled Someone better.

He had peace not panic and fought the good fight of faith rather than flee from his/His enemies.

David already knew what the incarnate God would later reveal: “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lost it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it…The one who endures to the end will be saved…Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.   Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.”

As the foundations of the world and even America are increasingly shaken, scorned, and threatened by darkness orchestrated by satanos – and anyone who doesn’t see that has been blinded by the darkness or been drinking too much Kool-Aid – the faithful, like David, have supernatural peace not panic as a by-product of intimacy with God and supernatural determination to fight the darkness with His salt, light, and leaven rather than run away, hide, and save their own skins.

Of course, being on God’s team is a no-brainer when considering the final standings.

So, like David and the faithful of all ages, we model Someone better – Master Jesus by our manual the Bible – with strong calm sanity.

Intimacy with Jesus by the book yields the supernatural ability to move from panic to peace and flight to fight.


@#$%

Blessings and Love!

@#$%

Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

@#$%


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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 10

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface of the Psalms

#10

“Misery Likes Company But Can’t Get It From Christians”

The irony of American life was illustrated by the editorial cartoon that appeared in The Citizen’s Voice on 13 June 2018.  It showed a graph charting America’s increasing economy, stocks, employment, wages,…and suicides.

Mother Teresa’s observation of this irony comes to mind.  When asked what she thought of America’s great wealth during a visit, she said sadly, “I have never seen such poor people.”

How ironic that the wealthiest nation in the history of humankind has so many miserable people as documented by a suicide rate spiraling out of control.

According to editor-in-chief William Falk of The Week, “Every year, about 45,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. – twice as many as are killed in homicides” (6/22/18).

Research tells us that one in seven of our youth report having thoughts of suicide.

Most experts say such recorded statistics are very, very, very low to reality; estimating that many more deaths reported as natural were suicides.

Kirsten Powers asks then admits in USA Today (6/22/18), “Why are so many more Americans getting to this level of emotional despair than in the past?…[Clearly]…something is wrong with our culture.”

Candidly, Christians know why.

Faith-based life just ain’t what it used to be in America.

I saw that at the recent baccalaureate service for Belvidere North High School on 8 May 2018.  Well-attended by graduating students and parents, I did not spot one member of the school board, teacher’s union, or administration.  There wasn’t a teacher, sub, coach, or local politician in sight.

Everyone sees the symptoms of a Godless-to-defying America in our broken homes, schools, churches, media, entertainment, government, courtrooms, and just about every thread of the unraveling fabric of our culture.

For reasons betraying profound emotional, intellectual, and spiritual illness, America is broken and can’t/won’t turn to the only One capable of healing it.

Americans are giving up.

The nation is committing suicide.

David understood such fatalistic feelings.

With so many enemies including his mentor Saul and son Absalom, he felt lower than dirt on many occasions as noted in so many of his psalms.

If it were not for his unrelenting faith in the midst of life’s meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance, David would have been one of those deadly statistics.

While admitting faith does not make us immune to life’s miserable challenges, David knew faith overcomes them.

Psalm 10 is all about living confidently amid the challenges.

David reminds us to look up not give up.

He does not deny the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life: “Wicked boasting…cursing, deceit, and violence…trouble and malice.”

What really troubles David is a feeling that God has taken a vacation or isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care anymore and isn’t helping the faithful during desperate times: “Why do You stand so far away?  Why do You hide in times of trouble?  Why are You avoiding me?  Where are You when I need You?”

David almost comes off like a frustrated Vince Lombardi on the sidelines when the team seems to be losing: “What the hell’s going on out here?”

We know the feeling.

We’ve been there when we feel God hasn’t done that expected intervention.
Pero David and the faithful know God and the Godly win sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end: “The Lord is King…You have heard the desire of the humble…You will strengthen…You will listen.”

Though we’ll get to it before the parousia, Psalm 37:15 bears boasting in the ultimate victory shared with God: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned.”

The rock solid truth keeping our lives from turning into the sinking sand of despair to death is God saves sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.

We’ll never know why we must endure, yet we know how to overcome.

Faith.

Trusting the One who has led us through the wildernesses of the past will do the same sooner than later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.

BTW, God is our only option.

Only God enables us to overcome the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance.

Nothing and no one else can do that.

People who don’t get that/Him tend to be…suicidal.

Their lives are not stable and they are susceptible to drowning in the inevitable perils of life for which there is no immunity.

The only life option is overcoming by grace through faith in Jesus.

Like so many of the psalms, that’s David’s message in #10.

So I guess it’s time for me to share something that I’ve never shared in over four decades of undershepherding.

It’s something that I share with David and people like him.

I can’t be as miserable as too many people around me who are miserable and want me to be miserable with them because it’s impossible to be that miserable once you’ve been saved by grace through faith in Jesus.

I’m serious.

There are people in our lives who want us to be as miserable as they are.

I’ll also confess there have been times when I’ve wanted to be as miserable as they are so I can, you know, empathize with ‘em because God knows I can’t sympathize with ‘em.

Yeah, that’s sick.

But there are lots of sick people in the world and sometimes, if we’re not holding tightly to Jesus, they’re contagious.

Truth is we don’t want to be like them and won’t be like them if we stay close to Him.

Being miserable is a choice; and while the reports are in and prove their numbers are increasing at an alarming rate, we don’t have to become a part of their statistics.

We can live through it all with/in/through/for Him.

Getting back to suicide, a famous friend told me, “I’ve had this recurring idea that God greets people who have committed suicide with warm gentleness: ‘I know it was too tough for you down there.  It was almost too tough for Me.’”

Yes, suicide is a sin.  It is a rejection of God’s best for our lives: “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly!”

No, it is not an unforgivable sin.  There’s only one of those: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’s witness to salvation for anyone by grace through faith in Jesus.

So let’s get this straight.

God made this life so “good” by design; and it’s “good” as long as we don’t mess it up.

Instead of giving up on life when it gets unbearably tough, look up!

Facing the future unafraid in the assurance of the best thing forever (heaven) after the worst thing in time (death), jump on His back and hurdle life’s obstacles to the finish line.

Nobody, including David in Psalm 10, ever said every day will be a hot fudge sundae; but everybody who has ever joined David in seeing beyond the immediate problem to the imminent solution with/in/through/for God knows a few or even lots of bumps and bruises aren’t deadly.

I think of the boy who warned a crabber, “Mister, you better put a top on your bucket or the crabs will crawl up and out.”

“No.” the crabber assured the young boy, “don’t worry, son.  When one crab gets to the top and close to freedom, the other crabs just pull it back down.”

Yep, lots of crabs in this world; and misery likes company.

Faith doesn’t make us immune to their disease; but it does mean we will overcome ‘em sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.

He pulls us up as they try to pull us down.

He’s stronger.

Pero, again, it’s a choice.

It’s all about grip and hanging onto the right One.


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Blessings and Love!

@#$%

Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

@#$%


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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 9

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface of the Psalms

#9

“Defeating Giants”

David got it before Paul even wrote it: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

If we’re on God’s side, He’s on our side; and when we’re on God’s side, the other side doesn’t stand a shot in Sheol.

Even as a scrawny little shepherd boy who hadn’t even been to boot camp, David knew Goliath was going down for the count because God doesn’t lose the big games.

I like how Frederick Buechner described the championship bout: “Goliath stood ten feet tall in his stocking feet, wore a size 20 collar, a 9½ hat, and a 52-inch belt.  When he put his full armor on, he not only looked like a Sherman tank but weighed like one.”

He was the heavyweight champion of the world with “the burdensome business of having to defend his title against all comers…[and there]…were the mangled remains of the runners-up.”

David was a prohibitive long shot in all of the betting parlors; but when we’re on God’s side, the other side doesn’t stand a shot in Sheol: “The stone from David’s slingshot caught him between the eyes, and when he hit the dirt, windows rattled…[then David]…straddled Goliath with Goliath’s sword…[and David along with everyone else got it before Paul even wrote it]…”

Psalm 9 may have been inspired by David’s big win over Goliath. 

It fits. 

Certainly, it celebrates Godly triumphs over the dark side in time and the ultimate victory of the Godly for all time; or as Tony likes to say, “I’ve peeked at the end of the book to see how it ends.  God wins!  And we win with Him!”

While Psalm 8 concentrated on the beauty and splendor of God’s creation and our enjoyable role at the top of the food chain, Psalm 9’s excitement focuses on God’s victory over His enemies which are our enemies and our enemies which are His enemies because we’re family.

David sounds like a faithful athlete who’s just won the Super Bowl or World Series: “I thank the Lord with all my heart!  All glory to God for this great victory! “

This celebration far exceeds the excitement of winning a game because it’s the Godly victory over the dark side: “The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on You and fell on their faces.  You took over and set everything right; when I needed You, You were there, taking charge.”

It was no contest because God is the unmatched, unparalleled, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and almighty sovereign over everyone and everything: “You blow the whistle on the Godless.  You are the only enthroned One.  Your enemies disappear from the sidelines.  Their names are erased from the halls of fame.”

David esteems God as the undisputed victor and Lord of all: “The Lord sits enthroned forever.  God alone decides.  God alone judges. “

David assures the Godly of their share in the triumph: “God is a safe place for everyone who trusts Him and joins His team. “

In short, we win sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end because He can’t lose.

It’s impossible for God to lose.

Psalm 9 concludes with a prayer praising God’s continuing graces for the Godly and a witness to God’s undefeated record as a warning to anyone contemplating an assault on Him and those faithful to Him: “Continue to grace me so I may continue to sing Your praises of providing for the faithful.  You will destroy those who seek to destroy Your family.”

Psalm 9 is another testimony to God taking care of anyone who is on His side.

History shows anyone who fights with God’s people is fighting God and destined for defeat.

Pharaoh? Gone!

Egyptian Empire?  Gone!

Amalekites?  Gone!

Assyrians?  Gone!
Hittites?  Gone!

Chaldeans?  Gone!

Goliath?  Gone!

Philistines?  Gone!

Babylonians?  Gone!

Persian Empire?  Gone!

Greek Empire?  Gone!

Roman Empire?  Gone!

Byzantine Empire?  Gone!

Ottoman Turkish Empire?  Gone!

Hitler?  Gone!

Nazi Germany?  Gone!

Stalin?  Gone!

Soviet Union?  Gone!

Get it?

Get Him?

History is His story and His story is punctuated by victory!

Because of the fidelity of an elder in our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main – we’ll call her Katie because that’s her name – a baccalaureate service was held at Belvidere North High School on May 8, 2018.

Because I’ve been reading about Winston Churchill who said we must have the courage to be candid within a collaborative context to advance civilization, I am compelled to say there would not have been a baccalaureate service for the Class of 2018 to honor God if it were not for Katie and her supporting cast.

The inspiration and perspiration were 99% hers; and that doesn’t speak well for our…

Catch the drift?

Parenthetically, I was ordained on May 8, 1977.

So as I prayed and asked God to inspire something about Someone to honor Him and maybe even inspire the faithful remnant of Blue Thunder to wake up, look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus before it’s too late for America.

Anyway, here’s how I started.

I went to high school.

Graduated before a lot of your teachers were born.

Baby boomer.

You know, we’re the ones who’ve messed up what you’re inheriting.

Do they still teach history in high school?

Is so, you may have heard about Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization.

As I was reading through those volumes for the first time about 45 years ago, I was fascinated by this irrefutable historical fact.

Every civilization has a shelf life.

Historically, repetitively, without much deviation, empires last around 200 years or so.

Do they still teach math in high school?

I was awful at it.

Really, no matter what Miss Egan said back then, I still haven’t found any reason for taking Trig or solid or whatever geometry; though I’m glad I memorized the multiplication tables.

Pero let’s do the math.

2018-1776=242
Uh, oh.

Then I went on to talk about America’s greatness in its Christocentrically Biblical roots and how America will not be renewed apart from a rededication to its heritage.

Then I talked about millennials and how their music may be a little off from my classic rock perspective yet I’ve learned some things about millennials that may help turn things around.

As I talked about the positively redemptive qualities of their generation and how America needs their best, I reminded the Blue Thunder of Belvidere North High School that thunder is strong, compelling, passionate, persistent, persuasive, and never inhibited, detoured, deterred, or controlled by lesser elements.

I said thunder reminds me of the salt (stinging to heal with zest and flavor as it preserves the good and purifies the bad), light (being a photograph and pattern and guiding radiance to Someone better), and leaven (mixing in to make better) that Jesus said we are in/through/for Him.

I esteemed millennials for being collaborative, not hierarchical.

Thunder!

I esteemed millennials for choosing family and fun over more money and overtime.

Thunder!

I said Jesus likes millennials for not being as judgmental as baby boomers and the Korean and WWII generations.

Thunder!

I said millennials know Jesus doesn’t want Christianity left in the sanctuaries.   He wants them to take Him out into the streets.  Christians are supposed to be the same on Sundays and every day of the week.

Thunder!

Millennials are tired of hypocrisy in the church and want to be a part of churches that talk more about what they’re for than against.

Thunder!

Millennials could care less about denominations and institutions and religions about Jesus because they want a relationship with Jesus reflected in all of their relationships because relationships matter more to them than anything else.

Thunder!

In short, Millennials are a big part of the present and future remnant – women, and men who are authentically Christian by the book with unbridled enthusiasm and without equivocation.

I closed like this.

We can sum it up like Paul did in a life’s text for anyone who really wants to follow Jesus: “Seek the things above, where Christ is!  Set your sights on the things above where Christ is…not on the things of the earth.”

Historians report empires fall. 

Lots of doomsayers are saying America’s best days are over.

Lots of cynics are saying your millennial generation ain’t up to the task of turning things around.

Not me.

I am convinced that Christians like you who want to follow Him by the book are the answer to what’s ailing America; and if you can help heal America, the globe will also prosper.

So wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

You will be glad you did.

And you will help Jesus save America.

Then I ended: “I have a friend who likes to say, ‘I’ve peeked at the end of the book to see how it ends.  God wins!  And we win with Him!’”

That’s Psalm 9’s message.

It applies to everyone who loves Jesus by the book.


@#$%

Blessings and Love!

@#$%


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

@#$%


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