Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I've Got Your Back, Jesus!

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I’ve Got Your Back, Jesus!

          Back on 2 March 2018, I was privileged, as one of our community and county’s police chaplains, to be a part of the promotional ceremony for Shane Woody to Chief of the Belvidere Police Department.

          Here’s a big part of what I said.

          I’ve got your back!

          We’ve all heard it.

          Essentially, it means, “I am watching out of you.  I am willing and prepared to help you, defend you, look out for you, and, if necessary, I will run into fires with you and for you.  I will support you without complaint.  I will be there if someone is trying to blindside you.  Your well-being is as important to me as my own.  I am prepared to sacrifice for you.  And, if necessary, I will take a bullet for you.”

          I’ve got your back!

          I talked about our police chaplains Adam Reardon and Brian Phillips who have pledged with me to run into fires and storms of conflict and danger with our Chief and Sheriff and all of our law enforcement officers in Belvidere and Boone County; for we follow Jesus who told us and showed us how to do that.

          Indeed, it’s in a sheepdog’s DNA; and every truly called law enforcement officer as well as truly called pastor or teacher or mom or dad or leader of any kind shares that passionate pledge.

          We live to take on predators and run into rather than away from the flames.

          We’re called to it/Him/everyone.

          I lauded the community and county for the uncommon chain of smooth and seamless transitions of pivotal leadership for the health, welfare, and safety of everyone; especially noting how, unlike DC and Springfield, we have moved with such peace and unity from Mayor Fred to Mayor Mike, Fire Chief Dave to Fire Chief Al, Sheriff Duane to Sheriff Dave, and Chief Jan to Chief Shane.

          I concluded, more than less, celebrating Shane having our backs and us having his.

          Of course, I also mentioned somewhere in there that there are lots of people who say that but don’t mean it.

          We know those advertisements from banks and even churches and especially those jesters in DC and Springfield saying they’ve got our backs don’t really mean it.

          It’s always been that way.

          Some folks don’t walk the talk, say what they mean, or mean what they say.

          Praise God for the exceptions.

          Praise God that in a world with so many sheep and too many wolves, we’ve got sheepdogs like Fred, Mike, Dave, Al, Duane, Dave, Jan, Shane, Michelle, Tricia, and…

          Jesus especially comes to mind.

          The folks lining the road down the Mount of Olives and up to the Temple Mount on that original Palm Sunday said they had His back; but they turned their backs on Him so swiftly and angrily as shouts of “Hosanna” devolved into cries of “Crucify Him!”

          They didn’t have His back.

          The first 12 were nowhere to be seen when He really needed them to watch His back.  They pledged allegiance when it was safe; but when the heat turned on and up, they scattered and caved with whimpers: “I don’t know Him.”

          They didn’t have His back.

          And somewhere in the distance from years ago when His back was stabbed with an affectionate and unifying kiss turned toxic, I hear a question that begs to be asked, “Is it me, Lord?”

          Have I turned my back on Jesus?

          Let’s see.

          Rather, let’s assess what He sees.

          Do we turn our backs on Jesus in public?

          Do we have His back at those town halls and school boards and…?

          How about those youth sports meetings when games are scheduled during Sunday morning worship hours?

          Do we have His back then?

          Or do we turn our backs on Him because it’s…?

          How about those times when people are texting during a funeral or wedding or…?

          Do we turn our backs on Him because we’d rather…?

          Do we talk one way in Sunday School and another way when we’re with fraternity brothers and sorority sisters and…?

          Do we have His back always or some times or rarely or…?

          It’s so crucifying to turn our backs on Jesus.

          Ah, yes, history does have a way of repeating itself.

          Pero let me tell you about one shining moment in my experience when people who really love Jesus had His back.

          I was President of Rock Valley [Junior] Tackle Football.

          Most of the games, over the years, were played on Sunday mornings.

          Then Alvin from Northwest and another brother from Booker came to me and said this: “I know Sunday mornings and worship aren’t that important to white people; but for black folks, it’s the most important time of the week.  So if you don’t mind, we’d like your help to stop scheduling games during our worship times on Sunday.  Besides, we know what you really believe and figure you can help us out on that!”

          Knowing a little about process and another Robert’s Rules of Order, we got the job done because of the faithful African-American community in Rockford.

          I love to tell that story.

          It can happen.

          There are really faithful people in this world who do have His back…and ours as having His; for we know He taught us to love Him by loving each other like He loves us.

          In other words, we’re supposed to have each other’s backs.

          Obviously, gloriously, eternally, He has our backs.

          That’s what He’s all about.

          That’s what people who really believe in Him are all about.

          You’ve heard it before.

          You can tell more about a person by what she/he will die for than live for.

          Such beautiful words.

          I’ve got your back!

          He did, does, and always will have ours.

          Pero there’s that other question begging to be asked.

          Let’s frame it this way in His words that He backed up: “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 lose it, but whoever loses His life because of Me will find it.”

          Then Jesus delivers the punch line about backing up: “What will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his life?”

          I’ve got your back!

          He does.

          While I may be wrong, I don’t think we can end with that.

          Something about faith without works/signs/proof/evidence being…

          Let me put it another way.

          Knowing we’re going to live forever one way or the other, we better back Jesus.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Friday, March 9, 2018

If She's/He's Not Getting It at Home...

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    Too many preachers and other politicians make a good living by saying nothing eloquently.

    You know.

    Three irrelevant points followed by a syrupy, sentimental, and meaningless poem.

    Of course, that's the best way to be liked.

    44 comes to mind.

    Anyway, we're not called to be liked; or as I used to tell my homiletics classes and anyone else who wasn't really listening, "If everybody likes you, that includes the demonically oppressed and possessed.  Way to go, concubine!"

    We're called to love; and that often means saying what people need not want to hear.

    Still, I wish Jim wouldn't have sent this cartoon to me.

    It reminds me of...



    Well, this cartoon (below) won't be on our next bulletin cover pero, uh, well, uh, gulp, sigh, geez...

    Providentially or otherwise, it was forwarded to me just two hours after an emergency care session with a couple sent to me by...

    The woman was wondering why her husband has been cheating on her.

    After admitting she isn't interested in you know what anymore, he said, "I don't know why she even cares.  I mean she treats me like ___ all of the time.  She doesn't like to ___.  So I just figured..."

    I've often spoken to divorce and singles groups and said with tribute to Harley's His Needs Her Needs, "If your wife's/husband's emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or sexual needs are not being met at home, those needs will be meet sooner or later with or without you.  Adultery is sometimes enabled by a spouse who has lost emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual interest in her/his mate.  That's a fact, Jill/Jack.  If your wife/husband is getting it on with someone else, take a look in the mirror.  There are three sides to every story: her side, his side, and the truth; and the truth is adultery is often enabled by a spouse unfaithful to marital privileges and responsibilities.  In other words, deal with it before someone does it for you.  Just because you've lost interest in her/him doesn't mean somebody else won't..."

    If you have a problem with your watch, don't look at the hands.

    Look deeper!

    If your spouse is running around on you...




Scratching the Surface



(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to Happy/Healthy/Holy Marriage)

Everybody wants to live happily ever after.

Certainly, that’s the expectation at weddings.

But as a buddy observes, “Marriage is like flies on a screen.  50% want in.  50% want out.”

Truth is every marriage has challenges; as the bliss, mist, dog-eyed stares, and couch-cuddling to the tune of Elton John’s Your Song are often contradicted by days when wives think husbands come from Mars and husbands think wives come from Venus.

Think about the challenges – gender distinctives/obsessions, socioeconomics, inlaws, outlaws, and the many temptations threatening to tear apart marriages.

While this is a brief, incomplete, and indicative not exhaustive guide to happy, healthy, and holy marriages, I’ve discovered at least three essential ingredients in a recipe enabling romance after the honeymoon:

1. Take Jesus Seriously – You invited Him to the wedding!  That’s not enough!  He must be invited/welcomed/included/loved into the rest of your life together!  Jesus was clear, concise, and conclusive about personal/marital survival: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

2. Have Fun – Some favorite verses come to mind: “I meant to do my work today; but a brown bird sang in the apple tree and all the leaves were calling me.  So what could I do but laugh and go?”  Even those dusty old Westminster clergy got it/Him: “Our chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

3. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously – Here are 12 words that keep marriages together: “I was wrong.  I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  I love you.”  

If you’re really serious about taking Jesus seriously in your marriage, having fun in your marriage, and not taking yourself so seriously in your marriage, take a look at Mark Gungor’s Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.


If you’re not working on your marriage, someone else will be working on it for worse not better sooner or later.

Willard F. Harley, Jr.’s His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage is an excellent how-to on keeping romance in marriage and preventing someone from stealing who God intended for you in marriage.

Dr. Harley’s book identifies the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual needs that must be met in marriage; admitting unmet needs destroy marriages.

A man’s basic needs in marriage are identified as sexual fulfillment, recreational companionship, an attractive spouse, domestic support, and admiration.

A woman’s basic needs in marriage are identified as affection, conversation, honesty and openness, financial support, and family commitment.

Dr. Harley: “In marriages that fail to meet those needs, I have seen, strikingly and alarmingly, how consistently married people choose the same pattern to satisfy their unmet needs: the extramarital affair.  People wander into affairs with astonishing regularity, in spite of whatever strong moral or religious convictions they may hold.  Why?  Once a spouse lacks fulfillment of any of the five needs, it creates a thirst that must be quenched.  If changes do not take place within the marriage to care for that need, the individual will face the powerful temptation to fill it outside of marriage.”

Or as I’ve had to say to wives and husbands to emphasize this caution, “Your spouse’s needs will be met with or without you.  If your spouse ain’t getting it at home, they’re gonna get it from someone else.”

Marriages can be improved, renewed, or saved.

Go back to the essential ingredients in a recipe enabling romance after the honeymoon; and consider Revelation 2:1-7 as a model for improving, renewing, or saving marriages as well as one’s personal relationship with God: “Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Remember everything that made you so passionately in love with each other.

Repent or do them all over again.

Take Jesus seriously!

Have fun!

Don’t take yourself so seriously!

Gary R. Collins: “The most obvious way to prevent divorce is to build stronger marriages.”

Putting it another way, “The grass is greener where it’s watered.”


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Mercy Papers - Abortion Redux

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



Among America’s Continuing Sins

          We begin worship on the corner of Lincoln and Main with these words every Sunday: “Before you were born, God knew you.  Then God made you.  He knit you together in your mother’s womb.  God loves you so much.  So He came in Jesus to save you.  Now, God wants you to be His.  Blessings on you!  God bless America!  And welcome to our family of faith where Jesus is Lord by the book and you are welcomed, included, and loved.”

          More than less, that call to worship brings Psalm 139, Jeremiah 1, and so many of our Lord’s saving promises in the Bible to mind.

          Because we’re Christians, our collective conscience is captive to Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense guided by the Holy Spirit in concert with over 2K years of confessional, constitutional, historical, and traditional expressions of the aforementioned.

          Practically, we pray and work to follow Jesus; and if we’re shown error by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, we will confess, repent, and ask forgiveness as God’s redemptive recipe.

          More than less, God’s grace to forgive and save us from the damning consequences of our sins brings Psalm 32, 1 John 1, and so many of our Lord’s saving promises in the Bible to mind.

          Because we’re Christians by His standards, we’re pro-life.

          Specifically, we are 99% pro-lifers on the corner of Lincoln and Main.

          We acknowledge exceptionally sad moments when the termination of life is reluctantly, wrenchingly, awfully, and so painfully terminated.

          We acknowledge “just” war, self-defense, protecting the vulnerable from murderous predators, and the like when lethal intercession is the only viable option because no other option will save existentially.

          We have not missed the course on original sin.

          We know there is evil in the world; producing evil circumstances when only lethal intercession will end the evil.

          We are Matthew 10:16 aware – wise as serpents who know there are predators who will ravage and ruin unless beaten away or down and gentle as doves who know there are others like us who want to honor Jesus by the book as guided by the Holy Spirit to guide, provide, and protect as expected of people who claim to follow Him.

          Nota bene.

          We agree with exceptions to the rules; which is why we are 99% pro-lifers and reluctantly appeal to rarely used Fletcherian situation ethics as rationalization.

          Nota bene.

          Exceptions to the rules are called exceptions to the rules because they occur so infrequently that they are called exceptions to the rules; which means nations, churches, families, and all of the below are prudent when they follow the rules while admitting there are exceptions to the rules.

          That’s how we approach one of America’s most horrifically unfaithful sins.

          Obviously, I’m talking about America’s continuing sin of pretending the exception is the rule when it comes to abortion.

          No longer protected by legislators or the highest court of our country, America’s most defenseless people – the unborn – have been abandoned by, unreal as it sounds, so many pulpiteers and pewsitters who are really wolves in sheep’s clothing; masquerading as disciples of the One who promised, “I have come to give abundant life to you.”

          A lie that big can only come from the pit of hell at the direction of its father.

          So, again, unless there is an exceptionally rare circumstance rationalizing an exception to the Christian rule of life’s sanctity from womb to tomb, we understand the use of lethal force as breaking the 6th commandment of God and everything taught by His incarnate self Jesus about the agape love ethic distinguishing Christianity.

          Simply, we do not believe we are qualified to be the judges of who lives and who dies.

          Personally, pastorally, and prophetically, my pro-life passion has been reinforced by several experiences.

          ◉ When I was in college, I’ll never forget a lively discussion of Daniel Callahan’s epic Abortion: Law, Choice, and Morality.  Someone suggested abortion as a way to prevent child abuse.  Bill shot out of his chair and screamed, “I was placed in foster homes because my biological parents beat and abused me.  Are you saying it would have been better for me to have been aborted?  You’ve got a lot of nerve to say I’d prefer to have been aborted than live through it all.  I’ve survived and I’ve got a future and I’m happy you weren’t around to be the judge in determining my life’s viability.”

          ◉ Paul Swedlund, my good friend who went home to Jesus back in 1994 after falling off a mountain while hiking in Colorado, preached not too long before his tragic death, “Abortion is taking the life of a child who God knows and loves…The only difference between the children who cause your eyes to sparkle when you see them in church and the children in the womb is that you can’t see the children in the womb.  But God does.  And, to God, there is no difference between those in the womb and those already born.”

          ◉ I’ve never been able to imagine any of my heroes like Saint Francis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, the apostle Paul, or anyone else not to mention Jesus Himself performing abortions and being anything less than 99% pro-life.

         ◉ I’ll never forget preaching a pro-life sermon in Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s First Presbyterian Church.  I went on and on and on as I’m prone to do about the sanctity of all human life from womb to tomb.  Well, after the second service, an abortion doctor who was very big in the church castigated me and threatened to take himself and his money out of the church.  Frankly, something similar happened to me nearly a dozen years ago on the corner of Lincoln and Main with somebody who was very big in the church and threatened to take himself and his money out of the church if I talked about things like abortion, human sexuality, and so on.  BTW, both left!  Anyway, I was pretty depressed about it; for if you read Luke 15, you’ll discover even the most brazen of undershepherds like me get bummed out when people leave for all of the wrong reasons.  About a week after the sermon and rebuke, a letter appeared on my desk that I keep framed and visible in my home as encouragement:

                    Dear Dr. Kopp,

                    It’s a little late, but I loved last week’s sermon.  My mom
                    almost stood up on the pew and screamed, “Amen!”

                    Thanks for giving her a heart attack!

                                                  George (12 yrs. old)

                    P.S. You didn’t give her a heart attack, but I’m glad you
                    spoke against abortion because I’m adopted.

          I’ll also never forget ____ who came in to blast me after I preached something like that in Kansas City’s Second Presbyterian Church.

          She was a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s.

          She started in on me, “I can’t believe you spoke out against abortion.  You are so wrong and I am so mad at you.  I want you to know I had an abortion because I was married and the father wasn’t my husband.  Planned Parenthood told me to do it.  Your predecessor ____ told me to do it.  All of my friends told me to do it.  Who do you think you are to tell me that I was wrong?”

          “I’m nobody,” I replied, “but Jesus is Lord and Savior and all about life here, now, and forever.”

          She began crying uncontrollably; and, immediately, I felt discernment by the Holy Spirit that she had been living with the guilt of sin for years.

          I said, “____, I don’t believe you believe any of those people who told you that it was the right thing to do.  I believe you believe you were wrong; and I believe you need to be set free right now from continuing to hold on to a bad decision – a sin that aborted your child.”

          She started crying even harder.

          So I said, “Give it up!  Tell God that you know you were wrong.  Admit you were wrong.  Admit you sinned.  God will forgive you.  All you have to do is confess it and He’ll forgive you and you can feel the relief of being forgiven.”

          She did.

          He did.

          She lost her anger and guilt and felt God’s love and was saved.

          She was saved from her bad choices by confession (admitting she was wrong) and repentance (turning from sin to Him and trying harder to live as He modeled in Jesus and explained in the Bible).

          It was a Psalm 32 and 1 John 1 moment.

          That same offer is available to us.
          Whenever we’re holding on to sin, we’re miserable.

          We’re not righteous; and when we’re not trying to be right with God, we’re not right.

          We’re off.

          No matter what it is, the only way to get over it is to get away from it.


          Admit being wrong.


          Turn from sin to Him.

          Immediately, He will forgive and restore us to the peace that only comes from wanting and working to be right with Him.

          As we look at America’s continuing sins like abortion – especially how we have pretended exceptions are now the rules – we should not be surprised at the decaying and dying of our country.

          Still, He saves.

          He lives to save us!

          Over and over and over again in the Bible, we are reminded He wants to save us from our bad choices.

          Whether it’s abortion or same-sex weddings or enabled drug traffic or not caring enough for the poor and homeless and “the least of these” who He says are part of our family if we’re really part of His family or anything else that so sinfully separates us from His best saving desires, His promise is never too old to recall because it’s always timely and especially now: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal there land.”

          Let me put it another way.

          The worst of America’s continuing sins is rejecting the only One who can save us.

          Yet, amazingly, He’s still knocking.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chaplain's Remarks

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Belvidere Police Department
Promotional Ceremony for Shane Woody to Chief of Police
March 2, 2018

Chaplain's Remarks:

I've got your back.

We've all heard it.

Essentially, it means, "I am watching out for you.  I am willing and prepared to help you, defend you, look out for you, and, if necessary, I will run into a fire with you or for you.  I will support you without complaint.  I will be there if someone is trying to blindside you.  Your well-being is as important to me as my own.  I am prepared to sacrifice for you.  And if necessary, I will take a bullet for you."

I've got your back.

That's why we don't like to hear banks say that or even some churches; and especially those who say it but don't mean it.

Sorrowfully, every law enforcement officer in here right now knows what I mean.

But here, today, as we celebrate the call from God for this community to Shane as our Chief of Police, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who say to each other as they say to the community with documentable history and refreshed commitment, "I've got your back."

Shane, you are our chief; and we have your back!

I can speak for police chaplains Adam and Brian to say we will run into fires with you, storms of conflict and danger, and we will gladly give up our lives in service to the community as unto service to God.

You are our chief; and we have your back!

You continue, in my dozen years in our beloved city and county, an uncommon chain of smooth and seamless transitions of pivotal leadership to the health and safety and well-being of Belvidere and Boone County.

Mayor Fred to Mayor Mike.

Fire Chief Dave to Fire Chief Al.

Sheriff Duane to Sheriff Dave.

Chief Jan to Chief Shane.

Belvidere and Boone County are uncommon in a country and state and neighboring communities that are so divided when unity is so necessary in a time when wolves want to run wild.

You are our chief;  and we have your back: police department, sheriff's office, state's attorney, most Judges, most citizens, and everyone who recognizes why we've had such smooth transitions and continue to be a gem amid the fiberglass; modeling as we radiate Someone better who has our back now and forever.

We have your back, Shane, and you have ours as Chief; and with the cloud of witnesses, we will keep the peace as long as we remain focused on doing it all for the glory, laud, and honor of
our Lord and Savior Jesus.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!