Friday, June 1, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 8

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“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!




Doug said...

Just once I wish you’d tell us how you really feel.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Must be the Winston Churchill in me who often said we must have the courage to be candid in a collaborative context.

Not sure what that means...totally...but sounds good.

Yeah, share!