Sunday, July 29, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 16

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“You’ve Got a Friend!”

Walter Scott always attended the first worship service of McMurray, Pennsylvania’s Center Presbyterian Church over 20 years ago.

Just like our first service on the corner of Lincoln and Main, I did my singing nun thing because I like to sing praises to the Lord even if I’m not very good at it.

Anyway, between services one Sunday, Walter knocked on my study’s door, gave the guitar to me that I’ve used ever since, and said, “You don’t play well, but this will make you sound better.”

I cannot begin to tell you how intimidating it was to discover that faithful first service worshipper had played with Annie Hill, Pete Seeger, and many other stringed luminaries.

Parenthetically, that comes to mind on those Sundays on the corner of Lincoln and Main when we are blessed to have Dan Holmes lead worship.

I flew back to preside at Walter’s memorial service a few years later and recalled one of the most sobering things that he ever said to me: “I don’t have many friends because a real friend is someone who will take a bullet for you.”

Certainly, that will come as a shock to Facebook addicts who claim sooooooo many “friends” who enable their insatiable appetite and need to be “liked” for this and that and whatever.

Helllllllooooooo!  Anybody up for a reality check?

Of course, Jesus said, “There is no greater proof of love than giving up one’s life for a friend.”

He did that for you and me; and noted, “If you want to prove that you’re My friends, you will take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Me.”

Paraphrasing some more, “If you are willing to die for Me, that proves you are My friend.”

It all fits together.

He said being a friend of His means being a friend of His family and being a friend of His family is being His friend: “As you do it for others, you do it for Me.  As you don’t do it for others, you don’t do it for Me.”

In other words, when we are willing to take a bullet for Him, we are willing to take a bullet for His family; for taking a bullet for His family is the same as taking a bullet for Him.

That defines friendship according to Walter who got if from Jesus.

If so, so.

If not, not.

It’s sobering.

It puts a big dent in Facebook’s superficial definition of “friends” and the insatiable need of its addicts to be “liked” for this and that and whatever.

That’s why Walter didn’t have many friends.

That’s why – let’s be honest – we don’t have many friends.

That’s why Jesus doesn’t have many friends.

That’s the truth and He/we knows/know it.

The good news of Christianity is we have a friend in Jesus.

He will die for us.

He did.

He will.

More good news is His friends are our friends and are with/for us when the bullets start flying.

Psalm 16 is all about knowing God is our friend.

God has always been that kind of friend and confirmed His friendship beyond any doubts in Jesus who took a bullet for us on the cross.

David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter – only God and the Godly can be trusted completely: “God, I take refuge in You…I have no good besides You…You are my true Father and friend and lover of my soul…and I delight in holy people who are so close to You that I can trust them too.”

David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter – it is a tragic miscalculation to place complete trust in anyone but God and the Godly: “How sad it is for those who consider anyone but God and the Godly to be true friends.”

David knew – and so do we in our sober moments with Walter –
friendship as exemplified best by God and the Godly is among the greatest graces: “Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing…Life is good with You and Yours…I have a beautiful inheritance…Because of God and the Godly, I will not be shaken…My heart is glad…My spirit rejoices…I sleep well because I am safe and protected by my greatest friend and His friends who are my friends because we’re family…God and the Godly will never abandon me and will always pick me up from the pits.”

David’s forecast and Walter’s faith declare Messiah Jesus as the perfect incarnation of divine friendship: “You reveal the path of life to me.  In Your presence is abundant joy with eternal pleasures by grace through faith.”

We get to God through Jesus; for as He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one gets to the Father except through Me.”

When someone says bikers are crazy to bikers, bikers know three things.

First, people who say that are a little envious because they don’t have the courage to ride and experience its thrills.

Second, bikers are a little crazy because they know the risks but ride regardless because the rewards are greater than the risks.

Third, not afraid of their own deaths which is highlighted by the Christian symbol of a skull that has always been a part of our faithful tradition because we fear God more than anyone else and don’t fear death because there is eternal life after life by grace through faith in Jesus, bikers have a loyalty to each other accentuated by the ubiquitous hand wave whenever passing each other.

During a recent mandatory ride with some of my favorite bikers, we were reminded of Walter’s definition of true friendship that he got from Jesus.

We recalled a challenge from Jerry Kirk that he always gave to anyone claiming to be God’s friend: “Think of the one thing that you will not give up for God.  That’s the one thing that He wants the most from you.  That’s the one thing that you must give up to prove your faith in Him and receive His greatest blessings for you.”

Surely, as Jesus said, the greatest thing that we can give up for God is our lives – taking a bullet for Him.

It can be as literal as martyrdom.

It’s happened before, is happening now, and will happen again to God’s real friends.

It can be taking abuse, enduring scorn, and losing phony-baloney-pseudo friends for esteeming Jesus by creed, deed, deportment, and countenance.

So I asked my biker buddies, “Would you die for God and the Godly to prove your love for Him and each other?”

That’s what defines friendship.

If so, so.

If not, not.

Walter was right.

He didn’t have many friends.

Jesus didn’t have many friends.

We don’t.

Psalm 16 is ultimately all about needing just One.

Christianity is all about having just One.

He is enough.

As He promised, “If you give up your life for Me…If you take a bullet for Me…If you give up your life for each other which is the same as giving up your life for Me…If you take a bullet for each other which is the same as taking a bullet for Me, you will be blessed here and now and forever.”






Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 15

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Who’s Going to Heaven?”

You’ve probably heard this one.

“When you get to heaven or…, you’ll be surprised to see who’s there and who’s not there.”

I can’t help but thinking about Mark Twain who said that the climate is better in heaven but there’s more company in hell.

That’s God’s business.
God judges.

Nobody else.

Good news!

Anybody can go to heaven!

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you, everybody, and I will take care of you…God loves the world so much that He came in Me and whoever believes in Me will go to heaven.”

Bad news!

While anybody can go to heaven, not everybody goes to heaven.


Because it’s a choice!

Remember, He said, “I stand at the door and knock.  If you open the door, we’ll be together.  If not, not!”

Let’s listen, learn, and live as He completes the thought in a familiar line and then lines that are often omitted because it’s the truth that anybody can go to heaven but not everybody goes to heaven because it’s 
a choice; or as C.S. Lewis wrote, “It’s either-or…If we insist on keeping Hell, we shall not see Heaven…If we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell” (The Great Divorce): “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…[Sounds great!]…For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him…[Excellent!]…Whoever believes in His in not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already’…[Whoa!]…(John 3:16ff.).

Just read the red letters.

It’s very, very, very indisputably and categorically clear that Jesus says over and over and over again that anybody can go to heaven but not everybody goes to heaven because it’s a choice.

So how do we know who’s going to heaven?

That’s the Q&A of David in Psalm 15.

Psalm 15 asks the question (Who’s going to heaven?) and answers with indicatives/evidence/signs about the kind of person who’s going to heaven.

Let’s see.

We’ll look at a conventional translation (ESV) and then The Message

“O Lord, who shall sojourn in Your tent?  Who shall dwell on Your holy hill?…God, who gets invited to dinner at Your place?  How do we get on Your guest list?”

That’s the question.  

Existentially, how do we get closer to God in time?

Eternally, how do we live forever with Him and His in heaven?

What kind of person experiences the existential and eternal pleasures of God?

“He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart…Walk straight, act right, tell the truth.”

To paraphrase a popular line from a country that’s tried to get Him right in the past and better get back to Him before it’s too late, God’s people pray and work “for truth, justice, and the Biblically Christocentric way of life.”

I’m reminded of President Jimmy Carter who read Micah 6:8 as the guiding principle of his life from his mother Lillian’s Bible at his inauguration on January 20, 1977: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Simply, love God and be kind to one another.

Love God by being kind to one another.

“…who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change…Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable.”

Let’s begin with a basic psychospiritual reality.

We are not responsible for what others say and do; but we are completely responsible for what we say and do and how we respond to what others say and do…and whatever we say and do to others it is the same as saying and doing it to Jesus: “As you do it to/for them, you do it to/for Me.”

Simply, when we hurt others, we’re really hurting Jesus.

So, even more simply, don’t do those kinda things if you want to get closer to God!

“…who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent…Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe.”

Sacrificial selflessness not self-aggrandizing selfishness is a dominant trait of people who are getting closer to God.

We give until it helps even if it hurts.

Jesus put it this way, “if you’re really going to follow Me and get closer to Me and experience my best benefits in time and forever, you’ve 
got to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.”

Christians don’t save up when there’s human need around them.

Christians share indiscriminately.

Christians pray and work for everybody’s best no matter who, what, where, when, or why without the need or expectation for response, regard, or reward.

Christians are notorious agape lovers.

I’ll never forget the religious person as opposed to a person with a personal relationship with Jesus who came to me and said, “I’m leaving the church because all you ever talk about is Jesus and love, love, love.”

I said, “That’s probably good.”

Get it?

Churches don’t need any more religious people going through ritualistic and ceremonial riteousness.  

Churches need more people related to Jesus as seen by increasing love for Him in their love for everybody else.

“He who does these things shall never be moved…You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.”

Praise the Lord!

Who wants James Spader’s Raymond Reddington coming after them?

I know.

Bad joke.

Aren’t they all?

Some people are all talk.

Their lives are nothing more than gossiping gibberish.

People who are close to God walk the talk; and we know what that means: “And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

At this point, there’s always some pop-theologian who says it’s not about “works righteousness” or working your way into a right and existentially and eternally saving relationship with Jesus.

No kidding.

But anyone who has ever read the Bible knows Jesus expects our belief in Him to backed up behavior for Him.

Deeds confirming creeds.

Christianity is walk confirming talk; and not just all talk.





All of us!

No, we don’t believe in works righteousness; but we believe in works that indicate/express/show our righteousness.

That’s why Luther said, “Good works don’t make a man good; but a good man does good works.”

That’s why Calvin talked about the saved of God showing the signs of their salvation.

They got it from James: “Faith without works is dead…Talk without walk is do-do.”

They got if from Paul who said people who are going to heaven show indications/evidence/signs that they’re going to heaven like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, fidelity, humility, and self-control.

They got it from Jesus who revealed to John in Revelation: “I am coming back.  How happy will be those who have kept the words of the prophecy of this book; for I am going to repay everyone for what they have done.”

We live confidently in knowing we will live forever by grace through faith in Jesus; and anyone who has that blessed assurance acts like it/Him – more than less, increasingly so, and with inevitable fallings and failures that prove no one ever outgrows the need for Jesus to bridge the gap between our humanity and His perfection.

In short, Psalm 15 repeats an irrefutable and undeniable and absolutely necessary prerequisite for knowing we’re going to heaven after we die so that we live with strong, safe, secure, and serene sanity until our last breath.

Here it is.

Believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior is confirmed by praying and working to behave like we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior; and believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior takes out all of the guesswork of our eternal destiny.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Trumping on Peter Strzok

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


I've been struck by Strzok.

You know he's the FBI guy who hates the President, wrote love texts and tweets to another FBI employee who, uh, isn't his, uh, wife via social networking technology paid for by, uh, us, and recently appeared behind closed doors and then in public to say with unseemly and condescending arrogance, smugness, and self-righteousness, "Let me be clear, unequivocally and under oath.  Not once in my 26 years of defending our nation did my personal opinions impact any official action I took."

Having been around people for a long time as a vocational hazard and knowing the dark side of myself always begging confession and repentance leading to forgiveness and redemption, I was increasingly struck by Strzok in a repulsive kinda way as I kept hearing an echo from 1965 of the Castaways singing, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Whether you're a Trumper or anti-Trumper doesn't really matter in the end as long as you love God more than Trumpers and anti-Trumpers and, considering the providentially exceptional place of America in history, love America more than you hate Trump which means you're not a part of the conspiracy led by satanos to destroy America if you can't impeach, convict, remove, and execute the President.

BTW, if you think the preceding sentence-paragraph is hyperbole, you ain't payin' attention to the far left, CNN, MSNBC, and their supporting casts.

America is split pret' near right down the middle between Trumpers and anti-Trumpers; and apart from some kinda Red Sea or virgin birth thing, we're in a heap of trouble.

Getting back to being struck by Strzok, my favorite and most apocalyptic part of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees' hearing on July 12, 2018 was the confrontation between Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert and the lovestruck Strzok who keeps trying to convince everyone that he's pure and perfect in every way.

Gohmert sprinkled some especially stinging salt that struck Strzok's raw nerves by exposing a character flaw that the Congressman believes discredits Strzok's, uh, Trumpishlike egotism when it comes to being so above it/us all which is why we're supposed to believe he ain't no lyin' dog: "I've talked to FBI agents around the country...You've embarrassed them.  You've embarrassed yourself.  And I can't help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your wife's eye and lie to her about Lisa Page?"

Despite the howls and hoots and degradations of the DNC that increasingly betrays no moral barometers - led by New Jersey Congresswoman  Bonnie Watson Coleman who led accomplices in trying to shout down the Texan by scorning and slandering, "You need your medication!" - I think that's a fair interrogative.

Why should America trust Strzok if his wife can't trust him?

If he's lying to her and breaking his marriage vows, why should we believe him when he says he's keeping his vows to defend our nation?

I was struck by one more thing about Strzok's obvious lack of integrity.

Who checks the checkers in America?


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Saturday, July 14, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 14

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Jesus Said What About Them?”

There are many kinds of fools in our world.

The most notorious may be in Springfield and D.C.

For women and men who’ve convinced us to vote for them because they’ve got so many answers, they sure look rather foolish in office.

Actually, a look in any direction and it’s hard not to conclude fools are breeding in record numbers.

The biggest fools, according to David in Psalm 14, are those who say, “God does not exist.”

That professed atheism or denial of God-consciousness enables a self-direction and self-gratification without divine boundaries of behavior; resulting in what we see increasingly around us in America: “They are corrupt.  Their actions are revolting.”

Without God – minus that sense of ultimate accountability to God for beliefs and behaviors – morality is reduced to navel-gazing ethics: “There is no one who does good.”

We could put it another way.

People who act as if there is no God have a hard time convincing anyone that they believe in God.

“Faith without works,” wrote James, “is dead.”

Faithful deeds are produced by faithful creeds; and where there are no faithful deeds, it’s most often because there are no faithful creeds.

Calvin simply said people who belief in God and are saved show “the signs of their salvation.”

Jesus was direct: “A good tree produces good fruit.”

A closer look at the word for fool in Hebrew betrays atheism as more moral than intellectual.  

Transliterated as nabal, a fool aka atheist is saying aggressively, in effect, “No God for me.  I have no room for God in my life.  Because God does not exist, I have no inclination to have a Lord over my life.”

William MacDonald identifies the dirty little secret of atheists: “He does not want there to be a God, therefore he denies the existence of God.”

Albert Barnes is even more candid: “The belief that there is no God is commonly founded on the desire to lead a wicked life, or is embraced by those who in fact live such a life, with a desire to sustain themselves in their depravity and to avoid the fear of future retribution.”

That makes sense in a perverted kinda way.

If God exists, we better pray and try to do His best because, as the risen Christ warns in the last verses of Revelation, “Look out!  I am coming back quickly!  My reward will be with Me.  I will repay each person according to what He has done.”

Before anyone suggests that is work-righteousness or working one’s way into heaven as opposed to being granted heaven by grace through faith in Jesus, what we say and do is an expression of what we believe and what we believe determines our ultimate destiny.

Again, we are not talking about being pure and perfect in every way - knowing that is impossible which is way Jesus came to save us by grace through faith - pero His Word enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture is clear on believers behaving in ways that are more than less consistent with Him as proof/fruit/signs/indications of belief.

God alone is the Judge.

Still, Godly people act more Godly than unGodly.


Of course, atheism is rather preposterous.

It’s so foolish.




While we can look at several arguments for the existence of God that make sense, I like how my MIT engineer friend Bruce Ennis combined them all so convincingly in a little note dated 14 November 1976 that I found in his Bible just after he went home to Jesus: “If this Someone, whom I call God, has the power to grant life on earth, simple logic would dictate that He could also grant life elsewhere, which I call heaven…To any intelligent and perceptive human being exposed daily, as he is, to the beautiful miracles of this earth, and realizing that only some Power greater than he could produce such miracles, it must seem that an atheist has a low degree of intelligence, coupled with an abysmal lack of perceptivity, a deplorably egotistical self-esteem, and an unseemly arrogance.”


Not bad for an egghead.

I think of it this way.

Atheists may have more faith than Theists; because atheists assume everything just popped up and existed without Anyone turning the ignition.  

Uh, but, sigh, gasp, thinkaboutit, that’s like saying there was an explosion in the church office yesterday and a new language dictionary just, like, you know, appeared.

Atheists are so foolish.

People who don’t believe in God and don’t feel responsible to God and don’t depend upon God are, in Jesus’ own words, fools.

BTW, Jesus used the Greek word that transliterates as moros.

Get it?

Psalm 14 is a precursor to the good news of God in Jesus continuing as Holy Spirit that punctuated the greatest sermon of all time: “A wise man builds his life on the solid rock foundation of God.  The fool does not.  He builds his life on the sinking sand of human invention.  The wise man survives the challenges of life.  The fool does not.  Be a wise man!  Don’t be a fool!”

That’s what Jesus said about them.

The wise survive while fools sink.

Being God, He knows.

Fools don’t and won’t.

Believers do and will.

That’s why we say around Christmas, “Wise men still seek Him!”


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!