Monday, October 15, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 27

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Why We Are Not Afraid”

Rocky Marciano was heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1952-1956.

Amazingly, he never lost (49-0).


Never repeated.

No other boxer in history has ever hung up the gloves undefeated.

It just doesn’t happen.

We would be hard-pressed to come up with any other athlete or team that never lost.

Not even the Yankees win every World Series!

While some cheeseheads won’t admit it, even Vince Lombardi lost some big games.

All athletes and teams lose.

It’s a fact.

Winning streaks end.

History shows every civilization rises, peaks, declines, and disappears.

Previously popular television shows lose ratings and go off the air.

Polls go up then down then out.

Nobody has ever remained on top of the charts.

Everybody and everything seem to have an expiration date.

The fear of losing is real because losing is inevitable.

David understood all about that kinda fear.

Though conscious of being chosen by God to become the greatest king in the history of Israel with a life story and writings taking up a big chunk of the Bible, so many of his psalms include personal struggles with fear of mentor Saul, son Absalom, and so many of the world’s evil Goliaths who lived to take him down.

David was a marked man; looking over his shoulder for the next assassin.

Though your guess is as good as mine as to which particular set of fear-filled moments provoked Psalm 27, it was true to many periods in his life.

It is true to many periods in our lives when fear grips the gut.

Psalm 27 is David’s acknowledgment of personal fear and the only way to overcome it.

Surviving victor David explains why believers are not afraid of those dark nights of the soul when evil enemies prowl.

Believers know God guarantees being at the top of the final standings: “The Lord is my light and salvation.  Why should I be afraid of anyone?  With God on my side, I’m fearless.”

Believers are confident in God’s guiding, providing, and protecting: “I am confident in God’s care.  When evildoers have assailed me, God has always taken care of me…When all hell breaks loose – when evil hordes ride down ready to eat me alive – I’m calm collected, and cool.  God is my safe place.”

Believers know the safest place in life and eternity is at God’s side: “I want only one thing from God.  I really desire only one thing.  I want to be close to Him.  I want to dwell in His house.  Better is one day with Him than thousands elsewhere…’Oh, baby, it’s a wild world; and the only quiet, secure, and safe place is with God.’”

Intimate with God, believers thrive triumphantly amid the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the world: “I am certain that I will see God’s goodness in time as well as eternity.  That’s why I say, ‘Wait for the Lord!  Stay with God!  Hang on to Him!  That’s the only way to the confident courage to overcome fear.’”

You may remember how President Franklin D. Roosevelt said at his inaugural address on March 4, 1933, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Thoreau wrote in his journal on September 7, 1851, “Nothing is so much to be feared as fear.”

Without God, that fear is daunting to paralyzing to defeating; evoking the kind of weak and dread-filled hysteria of Bluto’s frat brothers in Animal House, “Oh, Bluto, we’re so afraid!”

Without God, we’re afraid of the Russians, Islamofascistnutball savages, IRS, NSA, FBI, DNC, GOP, and anyone else trying to take away our freedoms.

Pero with God like David in Psalm 27, we function through the firefights, face enemies unafraid, and refuse to surrender to fear.

With God, we join the apostle John to say with confident courage, “We are from God and we conquer evil because the One who is in us is greater than the evil and its source who are in the world…There is no fear in love!  God is love!  God loves us!  We love God!  No fear!”

You’ve probably heard it this way: “I don’t know about tomorrow but I know who holds my hand!…I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future!”

I’m reminded of a little book that I like to read to children around Halloween: Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween.

Here are some faith-filled excerpts: “On Halloween I might see black cats, pointy hats, and creepy flying bats…But God’s power is the reason I don’t have to be afraid…Halloween is jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and candy on a dark and spooky night…But Jesus is the light of the world.”

It ends with his prayer: “Dear God, Even though Halloween is a lot of fun, sometimes it can be a little scary, too.  I’m glad that Jesus is the light of the world.  Thank you for always watching over me so I don’t have to be afraid.  Amen.”

David sang, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Why should I be afraid of anyone? With God on my side, I’m fearless.”

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  If you follow Me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
That’s why we’re not afraid of the dark.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is our guiding, providing, and protecting light.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Sunday, October 14, 2018

Make America Godly Again #2

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Psalm 91

Matthew 10

Sons of Zadok Beruf

No matter who, what, where, when, why...Remnant.  "I will not let them profane My holy name anymore." Make America Godly Again!!!


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Make America Godly Again #1

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Psalm 91

Matthew 10

Sons of Zadok Beruf

Except for Israel that keeps blowing it, no nation in history has been more conscious of being under Him...remnant remains...Make America Godly Again!


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Listening to Dr. Ford

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    While I don't consider myself to be an expert in anything, I have spent almost 45 years listening to people as a pastor, police chaplain, and professor.

    Some may contend with me on this pero I listen very, very, very carefully and connect dots.

    You name it, I've heard about it over long hours of care punctuated by prayer.

    Before mentioning what I'm sensing about Dr. Ford, I've got a few predictions related to the Supreme Court.

    Though I may be wrong and have usually been wrong about political stuff since picking McGovern back in 1972, I do not believe Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.

    If there is a blue wave on November 6, there will be 8 judges on the Supreme Court until 2020.

    If there is a red wave on November 6, the left will be really, really, really sorry that they Borked Brett.

    Getting back to Dr. Ford, I have cared for many women like her over the years.

    One thing about her testimony really caught my attention.

    She kept referring to Kavanaugh as Brett.

    Not Kavanaugh, Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Kavanaugh, or that man, beast, or...



    Not only did she refer to him in the familiar rather than formal, there was a softness almost wistfulness absent of antagonism whenever she used his name.

    Whenever I have cared for women who have been abused by men, I have never heard such soft familiarity.

    Usually, appellations have been harsh to hateful with no hint of deference and certainly no suggestion of affection.

    Admittedly, that has sparked some Shakespearean suspicions about the true relationship between the two that only they know for sure.

    Still, as I listened to Dr. Ford and felt sorry for both of them being caught up in this sadly pathetic political drama as the new normal in Jerry Springer nation, I wondered what Brett really means to her.

    I'm not saying I know.

    Again, I'm not an expert in anything.

    All I don't know is to look deeper than the hands if you've got a problem with your watch.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Monday, October 1, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 26

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“God Knows”

          Ever hear of Dr. Ford?

          She’s famous because of Judge Kavanaugh.

          Ever hear of Maria Reynolds?

          If it weren’t for her, Alexander Hamilton may have become President.

          When paging through history, there seems to be many women who became really famous because of many famous men for the wrong reasons and their names will always be linked.

          Bathsheba, Marilyn, Anita, Monica, and Stormy will be on the tip of the tongues of Jerry Springer nation whenever names like David, JFK, Judge Thomas, President Clinton, and President Trump are invoked.

          That’s the very, very, very short list.

          Deep down - let’s admit it - too many Americans like dirt.

          We roll around in it whether it’s a sleazy tabloid or raunchy television talk show or social networking posting.

          Deeper down - though we try not to admit it - too many Americans really like it; and among the reasons is some people feel really good about what’s really rotten in the lives of others.

          More than misery liking company, some people really like bad things happening to other people because it makes them feel…something…not remotely related to Jesus.

          Somebody’s paying for those papers, links, cables, commercials, and other channeling cesspools proving there’s nothing original about sin.

          Getting back to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, somebody’s lying.

          I know that’s a harsh word.

          Pero, uh, whoever’s not telling the truth is, uh, lying.

          One of them is breaking the 9th.

          While Joy and Sean claim to know who’s telling the truth along with the most despicable collective cast of elected dolts in American history – Talk about a swamp! – most reasonable people wouldn’t bet the farm on either.

          Pero, again, one of ‘em is lying.

          One of ‘em is telling such a whopper that the other’s life will be permanently tainted and possibly ruined.

          Thank God that never happens In churches.

          I’m not sure sarcasm is a gift of the Holy Spirit buuuuuuut, sometimes, it helps to make the point in a humorous way; or as I often told homiletics students, “Get ‘em laughing and then stick in the double-edged knife of truth.”

          Anyway, a doubles tennis tournament many years ago comes to mind.

          It was a friendly club tournament; and in the first rounds, the calls were made by the players.

          You know, an honors system.

          Well, I hit an ace right down the middle on the line and one of the guys on the other side yelled, “Out!”

          I started running toward the net in a Christian kinda way to argue the call but my partner stopped me, calmed me, and whispered into my ear, “God knows.”

          God knows who is telling the truth and who is not.

          Alexander Hamilton, David, and many other believers have told the truth when caught with their pants down.

          Others have not.

          Others have lied.

          Some accusers are liars.

          Some defendants are liars.

          One of the painful things that I’ve learned over the years is people lie when the truth doesn’t help them to get what they don’t deserve.

          Thank God that never happens in Springfield, DC, newspapers, talk shows, or, uh, gulp, sigh, geez…churches.

          Sarcasm can be salty after that first humorous lick.

          And while some folks like Joy and Sean and the swamp-dwellers in DC and their kin in entertainment, education, ecclesiastics, and fakes news from left and right pontificate on their discernments for social, political, and personal advantages, no one except God really, really, really knows.

          That’s a big part of Psalm 26.

          While we can only speculate on the particulars, David is really, really, really bummed out by false accusations against him: “Clear my name, God!  They’re saying I hang out with hypocrites, evildoers, tricksters, thugs, gangsters, and double-dealers.”

          Reminiscent of Psalm 17, David appeals to the better parts of his character or those times when he hasn’t been a jerk: “Examine me.  You know I’ve always been on Your side.  I’ve done my best to be Yours in all things at all times in all places with all people.  I’m washed up.  I’ve cleaned up.  I’m not on the dark side.”

          Knowing God knows and will vindicate him in the end while knowing he’s still gonna catch anything but heaven in time because people have been lying since the first family got kicked out of the garden, David concludes, as one of our Sunday School classes on the corner of Lincoln and Main assures with a poster, “You Are Safe” with God and the truly, authentically, consistently, and not 9th-breaking Godly.

          With a stabilizing strength sadly spiced with the reality of living in a world filled with too many lying haters, David concludes there is really only One who provides a really serenely safe place: “Lord, I love the house where You dwell, the place where Your glory dwells.  I love life with You.  Yours is the real safe house.

          I think that’s why the risen Lord told John the Revelator that God is worshipped 24/7/365 in heaven.

          It’s heavenly to be safe.

          It’s heavenly when the lies and other bad stuff of time end.

          Believers know that’s why we are at His best in worship.

          That’s why people who worship are strong, calm, safe, and secure in a world that’s increasingly maddening.

          Truth is everything’s been going to everywhere but heaven since the garden.

          It’s been downhill ever since God created the “good” and we turned it into less than His best intentions.

          The good news in our world of so much bad news is we can still be safely loved by taking His extended hand and walking with Him from here to eternity.

          That’s when the good outweighs the bad in time as the preface to the good having no room for the bad in heaven.

          The only way to overcome the meantime when people are lying and hitting and hurting so savagely is to hang with God.

          That’s David’s urging in this psalm.

          Hang with God or get hung up by the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world.

          Or as some of our friends say so aptly, “Let go and let God!…Do your best and leave the rest to God!”

          Or as preaching professor Bert Atwood urged seminarians so many years ago, “Trust Jesus and, in everything else, hang loose!”

          God knows.

          God knows who’s not lying.

          God knows who’s on His side.

          Seeing that big picture doesn’t ease all of the pain.

          Just ask Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, Maria, Alexander, David, Bathsheba, Anita, Clarence, Bill, Monica, Donald, Stormy,…you…me…everyone.

          Yet seeing the big picture – God knowing and guaranteeing the wiping away of every tear and pain and disappointment of life in the end – provides a strength, calm, sanity, and irrepressible optimism of inevitable victory.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Thursday, September 27, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 25

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Declaration of Dependence”

          John Huffman, one of America’s great pastors and personal friend of Billy Graham and President Nixon, spent time during seminary with Norman Vincent Peale whose ministry was often defined by his memorable emphasis on the power of positive thinking.

          Indeed, my wife Leslie framed a cross stitch for me that I have always kept within sight: “This Is A Positive Thinking Area.”

          Peale understood Christians are always ultimately positive because God the Father is awesome, Jesus beat death, and the Holy Spirit sustains life.

          It’s hard not to be positive once we figure out God’s undisturbed, unperturbed, and limitless love for us.

          Anyway, I’ll never forget John passing on some advice to me that Peale gave to him.

          Peale warned John as a young pastor who warned me as a young pastor with advice for anyone in any kinda job: “Some people are like fireworks.  They burn brightly but briefly.  If you’re going to last, you must
have the power of positive thinking.  That power comes supernaturally as we invite Jesus into the heart as Lord and Savior.”

          Jesus opened the greatest sermon of all time (Matthew 5-7) with eight ways to experience emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and happiness; recalling how Robert Schuller referred to the Beatitudes as “The Be Happy Attitudes.”

          If we want to be happy for the rest of our lives as a preface to the everlasting, Jesus says, “Be poor in spirit…Mourn personal as well as corporate rejections of God’s will for your life aka sin…Be humble…Hunger and thirst to be right with God…Be merciful and gracious…Be purely motivated and wanting to give your totality to God…Bring peace into the world by pointing people to God as the only One who can overcome human instincts to divide, divorce, and destroy…and…Be willing to suffer existential persecution for being a Christian as conscious of the big picture of victory by grace through faith.”

          Read those opening verses of Matthew 5 for various translations to deepen cognizance, courage, and commitment.

          The first one – “Blessed are the poor in spirit because the kingdom of heaven is theirs” – is simple; paraphrasing, “How happy are those who know they need God and turn to God and depend upon God because God takes care of everyone/anyone who does that here and now and forever!”

          It’s reminiscent of the first half of the big ten in Exodus 20 that basically says the same thing with severe emphasis on making God the only object of absolute attention, allegiance, and affection; noting that with God as our God, we tend to treat people a lot better as He expects of believers as outlined in the second half of the big ten and throughout Holy Scripture.

          Or as we say on the corner of Lincoln and Main at the close of every worship service in summarizing how Jesus summed it up in Matthew 22:34-40, “Love God and be kind to one another…Love God by being kind to one another.”

          Again, always keep that connection in mind as Jesus explained it in Matthew 25: “As you do it to/for others, you are doing it to/for Me.  If so, so.  If not, not.”

          Psalm 25 begins with the same faith, trust, confidence, and devotion to God: “Lord, I turn my hope to You.  My God, I trust in You…I’ve thrown in my lot with You.”

          Psalm 25 is David’s declaration of dependence on God, echoed throughout Holy Scripture, and the reason why believers experience, as Oswald Chambers observed, strong calm sanity no matter who, what, where, when, or why.

          We know God will protect us: “Our enemies which are God’s enemies because God’s enemies are our enemies won’t get the best of us…Ultimately, we won’t be disgraced or embarrassed by our faith because God wins in the end…” 

          It’s like Paul predicted with absolute confidence and eager anticipation about the ultimate victory of God and the Godly, “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord in the end.”

          We know God will guide us: “God makes His ways known to us…God teaches us His paths…He schools us…He takes our hands and leads us down the paths of righteousness.”

          He has given us Jesus by the book so that who He is, who we are, what He has done for us and our salvation in Jesus, and what He expects in grateful return are undeniable.

          We know God will forgive us: “God is compassionate and loves limitlessly…God does not remember the sins of our youthful immaturity and when we rebelled against Him…He shows us how to turn our lives around in humility and greater passion for being His in all things at all times in all places with all people…God forgets our wild oats…God marks us off with His love as His…God plans only the best for us…God corrects, connects, and communes…God leads us step by step into greater unity with Him and the rest of the family of faith.”

          People who love God by loving like God don’t bring up our dating habits from high school if we’ve repented from the bad ones along with our bad habits ever since if we’ve repented from the bad ones; for as long we have a heart for God like David – not meaning pure and perfect in every way but trying/wanting/praying to be better than worse and confessing rather than rationalizing old, current, and future sins – we’re on the same page with Him in time and in the end.

          We know our most grateful response to God’s existential and eternal graces is worship: “Our eyes are always on the Lord…With our eyes on God, focusing on Him and filtering our lives through Him, we won’t trip up as often as before.”

          As Samuel delivered the promise confirmed throughout history, “God honors everyone/anyone who honors Him.”

          A friend told me about a boy named after the psalmist.

          David grew up in a Christian home.

          His parents kept their baptismal promises and David went to worship, Sunday School, youth group, and confirmation class.

          So when the rains fell in his life, David was prepared.

          Before the rains, David was a star athlete.

          6’2” and over 200 ripped pounds.

          He was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was preparing for full-time Christian ministry in/through whatever job would be his.

          Get it?

          But at the age of 27 when young folks like David are thinking about the endless possibilities and opportunities before them, David was diagnosed with a rapidly progressing cancer.

          It wasn’t long before the previously tall and strong athlete was reduced to a weak 80 pounds of flesh and bones.

          Before going home to Jesus, he had one final moment with his dad.

          He said, “Dad, do you remember when I was a little boy and how you used to hold me in your arms?  Do you think you can do that one more time?”

          The father bent down, picked up his son, and cradled him.

          With face pressed to face, David said to his daddy, “Thank you for building the kind of character into my life that can enable me to face even a moment like this.  Thank you for telling me about Jesus and making sure I was always connected to Him.”

          Now go back to Peale’s advice to John that he passed on to me.

          Like the old campfire song goes, pass it on.

          Pass Him on.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!