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!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

@#$%


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Monday, June 4, 2018

Facebook Funerals

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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    Exceptions to the rules are called exceptions to the rules because they occur so infrequently that they are exceptions to the rules; ergo, it is prudent to play by the rules while acknowledging there are exceptions to the rules.

    Assuming kneejerk defensiveness to the following sentences by the guilty and those assuming I'm too stupid to grasp exceptions to the rules, I think it's, uh, prudent to mention exceptions to this rule about funerals and our Facebooked-Out-Selfie-Selfish narcissists.

    So here's a quick nod to the exceptions before esteeming the rule to dissuade temptations to elevate exceptions to the rule as if exceptions are not acknowledged as exceptions to the rule.

    If that sounds redundant, it's because it takes Skinnerian patience with those who think guys like me, again, are too stupid to grasp exceptions while being smart enough to know exceptions aren't rules.

    Duh.

    The following rule about funerals has exceptions concomitant to military personnel, the geographically challenged and, uh, other, uh, exceptions.

    Problematically more than parenthetically, when you've got pulpiteers and pewsitters who don't honor their rules in Holy Scripture and jurists who don't honor their rules in the Constitution and play by exceptions more than rules, the abnormal may have become the new normal with exceptions being the rules because exceptions allow for the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual anarchy preferred by those pulpiteers, pewsitters, jurists, and other apostates that Jesus said are making sheep more fit for hell than they are themselves.

    Sooooooo on to the rule about funerals.

    People die without consulting our calendars.

    By grace through faith in Jesus, saints move from the Church Militant to Church Triumphant when it's most often inconvenient.

    I believe that's God's plan.

    Our calendars, as well as emotions, are upset by the most often untimely "passings" from here to eternity with no consideration to convenience.

    Again, I believe that's God's plan.

    Our calendars and convenience are upset to compel us to pause, ponder, and praise God for our beloved in time and shared paradise forever by grace through faith in Jesus.

    Unfortunately, there's a new trend in our Facebooked-Out-Selfie-Selfish culture - Can you say narcissism? - that postpones grief, closure, and celebration to accommodate calendars and convenience.

    Instead of funerals occurring within a reasonable period of time - let's say up to a week and less than two - that forces family and friends to amend their calendars and convenience because the dearly departed deserve that kind of respect and deference in cognizance that calendars and convenience are to be upset for funerals by God's design and destiny, funerals are postponed to accommodate calendars and convenience.

    Increasingly, people postpone the grief, closure, and celebration for two weeks, a month, months, or a year or more to accommodate the calendars and convenience of our Facebooked-Out-Selfie-Selfish narcissists.

    Nota bene.

    This charade is not being foisted upon us by most funeral directors and pastors that were mentored to honor family wishes and refrain from prophetic utterances in the planning and execution of rites.

    Nope.

    It's the Facebooked-Out-Selfie-Selfish narcissists whose calendars and convenience are more precious to them than a tribute to the resurrected by grace through faith in Jesus with all glory, laud, and honor to God.

    No wonder the risen Christ wants to barf.

    If we can't put our calendars and convenience on hold for...

    Now go back and read the nod to exceptions that preceded this rule;  remembering exceptions to the rules are called exceptions to the rules because...

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Blessings and Love!

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Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!

@#$%


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Friday, June 1, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 8

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface of the Psalms

#8

“Singing with Satchmo”

Because I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book, I’m more humbled than flattered when a seminarian or younger pastor asks me to mentor him.

I usually say something like this, “While I see this as a shared adventure more than a Yoda-to-Luke tutorial, I’ve made enough mistakes over time that you may pick up some things from moi.”

Early in our conversations, I’ll urge a ministerial mantra that sums up so much of our Lord’s charge: “Shatter the sound of silence!  Wake up!  Look up!  Stand up!  Speak up!  Act up for Jesus!  Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!”

Of course, there are consequences for such fidelity as we must review in Matthew 5-7, 10, John 10 and 15.

After asking a young fellah why he wanted to do what I pray and try to do, he said, “I want to be just like Jesus.”

“I’m sure,” I said soberly with a faint smile, “except for the crucifixion part.”

Sooner or later, we get around to another guiding principle for any kinda leadership: “You’re ___ if you do and ___ if you don’t!  Excellent!  How liberating!  That means you can pray, consult, and try to do the right/His thing!”

A parenthesis is always added to that freedom: “Always be prepared to confess, repent, and ask forgiveness for anything that you say and do that’s not consistent with Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense.”

That’s really important.

If you’re compelled by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, go for it!

If not, not.

It goes both ways.
I remember this Sister-Bertha-better-than-you who was spiritualizing something stupidly traditional – read Matthew 15 for more on that – who confused auto-suggestion with divine revelation; so I had to say, “Listen, honey, you’ve got to start comparing your prejudices, bigotries, and idiosyncrasies to God’s Word enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture before threatening my job security again.  If you’re coming to me through Jesus by the book, we’re on the same page.  If not, please don’t waste your time or mine.  Christianity is about what comes from the Word, not world.”

I stayed.

She left.

As ushers at the Grove will often say to people trying to get Brian and their board to be and do something other than Christianity by the Word, “This church isn’t for everybody.  It’s for people trying to follow Jesus by the book as empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

God knows there are other organizations and people posing as churches and pastors who follow other gods than the One known to us in Jesus by the book.

The point is God made us and everything and everyone around us so good.

When we read Genesis, God keeps raving about the goodness of His design.

We’re the ones who keep messing it up.

That’s why it’s so hard to smell the roses.

It’s hard to smell the roses when people keep pooping in His garden.

Dean Heuer is right.

There are more good gals and guys than bad ones; but as Eugene’s wife said to me in October 2011, “Some people are like farts in the elevator.  It takes just one.  Everyone suffers.  Nobody escapes.”

Dean is right; pero just one flea can make a big dog itch.

Pero Dean is right!!!

While just one apple can taint a barrel of freshly picked ones, the majority still isn’t rotten.

While Paul writes in Romans 16 that there are people who need to be identified as troublemakers, isolated as troublemakers, and removed if not redeemed, most of the human family just wants to live happily ever after.

Or as I tell those seminarians, young pastors, or anyone else after their honeymoons end and the romance of ministry dies, don’t blame Jesus for some Christians who need a lot more of Jesus and don’t blame the faithful majority for the irregular, irascible, and irreconcilable minority; or as my Grandpa Jacob used to say, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees!…Don’t miss lush meadows for crabgrass!”

That’s a big part of Psalm 8’s message.

It’s David song about God being sovereign over all of His creation and loving us so much as the crown jewels of His creation that we can smell the roses and sing with Satchmo: 

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow 
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh, yeah!

It’s takes incredible imperceptibility not to see the beautiful handiwork of God in our world with David: “Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!…Your name echoes around the world!…Even little babies are awed and overcome by Your beauty and the splendor of Your creation…When we look at everything that you’ve created, we can’t take it all in and just have to praise You for Your greatness!”

God’s awe-inspiring power becomes exponentially overpowering and overwhelming when we realize He has placed us at the top of the food chain: “When we look at everything that You’ve created from small to big and big to small and back again and how You’ve placed us in charge of it all to manage it on Your behalf, we’re blown away by Your grace as much as Your greatness!”

With all of the wonders around us and all of the wonders entrusted to our stewardship, it is no wonder why worship is our only indispensable activity: “God is good!  God is great!  Let us thank Him for everything and everyone!…Lord, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!…Your name echoes around the world!”

When I was a young pastor, I was mentored by many pastors, professors, elders, and just plain old saints who along with my mom and dad and grandparents were kind enough to keep their baptismal promises in pointing me to Jesus as Lord and Savior by example and education.

I’ll never forget that early summer morning on the back of porch of Julian Alexander’s house during some kinda clergy meeting when he stopped another inane ecclesiastical debate that I’ve forgotten to point out something that I’ll never forget.

Directing our attention to a furry brown and black caterpillar inching along a railing, he exclaimed, “Do you see that?  Do you see God’s creative beauty?  Nobody can do that but God!  Right before our eyes is an example of God’s power!  What a miracle!  Each of us is a miracle of God’s power!  Even more amazing is His power doesn’t end when the light of life is turned off!  His power is limitless and He uses that power to transport us beyond time and crawling with caterpillars to eternity with all of His children in heaven by grace through faith in Jesus.”

I want to thank Dean for reminding me that there’s more good than bad it our world; for after all is said and done, that’s how He designed and destined it/us.

Yes, we need a Savior because no one ever becomes so pure and perfect that we don’t need Jesus to make up the difference; pero let’s not miss the opportunity to smell those many roses with such irrepressibly winsome fragrances.

It is a wonderful world.

He made it that/His way for us to enjoy.

When we open our eyes and look around at all of the beauty and splendor of His creative handiwork and artwork and inhale deeply, singing with David and Satchmo is the only spiritual thing to do.

O Lord, our Lord, You are unparalleled in excellence!

We think to ourselves, what a beautiful world from a beautiful God!

Oh, yeah!


@#$%

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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