Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms #30

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“What Is Your Church All About?”

One of the most consistent remnantal evangelical leaders in the PCUSA, Jerry Kirk was pastor of Cincinnati’s College Hill Presbyterian Church and founder of the National Coalition Against Pornography and Religious Alliance Against Pornography.

Like anyone trying to make America Godly again, he was against things that insulted God’s holiness and injured God’s people.

I will never forget Jerry recalling how he was called into the holy crusade against pornography.

Seeing how pornography was destroying lives, marriages, families, and corrupting the beauty of Biblical sexuality, Jerry went to a hillside near the church and cried out, “Oh God, why don’t you do something?”

Distinctly and compellingly, he heard God reply, “Jerry, why don’t you do something?”

Christianity is all about incarnation.

God enfleshed Himself in Jesus and we enflesh our faith by saying the things that Jesus would say and doing the things that Jesus would do.

When Jerry was asked what churches should be all about, he’d reply, “Churches are called to say and do everything that God has revealed they should say and do as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.”

Going back to the clear explanation of Martin Luther so long ago in Worms, Germany when he ignited the Reformation by saying he stood with God and Christianity as ordered by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense guided by the Holy Spirit that never contradicts Jesus and Holy Scripture, enfleshing faith isn’t complicated as explained in the Ten Commandments, red letters, and supporting contextual Biblical revelations.

I like how Eugene Peterson put it: “When Paul of Tarsus wrote a letter, the people who received it understood it instantly.  When the prophet Isaiah preached a sermon, I can’t imagine that people went to the library to figure it out.”
Indeed, when Jesus closed that great sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7, it doesn’t say anyone was confused about what He said.  No, they were chastened by Who He is: “When Jesus had finished this sermon, the crowds were astonished at His teaching, because He was teaching them like one who had authority.”

While I may be wrong, I’ve always suspected churches that are so sincerely wrong about Christology and Biblical ethics just don’t want to trust God’s Word as exemplified in Jesus, explained in Holy Scripture, and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

They are the churches poisoned by pulpiteers and pewsitters who say, in effect, as they contradict Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense with shamelessly selfish audacity, “We know that’s what Jesus and the Bible say, but we think…”

If Jesus by the book is our sovereign authority on all matters of enfleshed faith, we trust Him at His Word and prayerfully try to obey Him at His Word.

Praising God for who He is and what He has done for us and our salvation by grace through faith in Jesus is authentic when it moves from the sanctuary into the streets no matter who, what, where, when, or why.

Faithful churches are all about praise confirmed by performance.

Deeds confirm creeds.

Behavior is the best barometer of belief.

That’s not works righteousness or some deluded sense of working our way into a right relationship with God.

There are signs of salvation that Calvin and other Biblical Christians conclude are more than hints of having a right relationship with God.

Most commentators on Psalm 30 think it was written by David to be used at the dedication of the Temple.

It’s about God’s people gathering in a place of praise; honoring God as Sovereign, Source, Starter, Savior, and Sustainer.

It begins with a shout of praise for God’s help, healing, and deliverance from anyone or anything that threatens existential and eternal health and welfare: “I will exalt You, Lord, because You have lifted me up and have not allowed my enemies to triumph over me…I cried for help, and You healed me…You brought my soul up from the grave.”

The psalm concludes with a promise to praise God from whom all blessings flow with regularity throughout life: “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever!”

I really like Peterson’s paraphrase: “I give You all the credit, God.  You got me out of that mess…I yelled for help and You put me together…You pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down and out…I’m about to burst with song.  I can’t keep quiet about You.  God, my God, I can’t thank You enough.”

Simply, Psalm 30 in concurrence with the entire Bible says true believers are all about praise that isn’t confined to sanctuaries.

Pero praise begins in the sanctuary; which is why the basic requirement of membership in churches is worship attendance.

People who don’t worship cannot be trusted to trust God at His Word because trusting God at His Word begins in worship.

When someone has something better to do than worship God, that means they’re not convinced God is worthy of worship; and if God is not worthy of worship, then God can’t be God to that person because true believers know God is worshipped because God is God.

That is the most basic fact of faith.

We worship God because God is to be worshipped.

When we worship God, we are declaring He is God to us.

When not, not.

Again, Peterson: “Sabbath is that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing…Feelings are great liars.  If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship.  Feelings are important in many areas but completely unreliable in matters of faith.”

Let me put it another way.

When Chuck, Jeff, Ken, and I spent a week with Jan and Eugene at Flathead Lake in Lakeside, Montana back in October 2011, he said something that changed my whole way of looking at churches, pulpiteers, and pewsitters: “Churches don’t need motivational speakers because you don’t have to motivate Christians.  Motivational speaking is often a sly way of manipulating people.  You don’t have to motivate Christians.  Christians are motivated by their relationship with the Lord.”

It reminded me of legendary football coach Lou Holtz who said this when asked how he motivated his teams at Notre Dame: “I recruit motivated players.”

You don’t have to motivate Christians to worship.

You don’t have to motivate Christians to pray and try to love Jesus by loving like Jesus with His red letters as the guide.

You don’t have to motivate Christians to be Christians.

They’re already motivated because they worship God and want to work and witness in His name.

The Church is all about Him while churches are all about themselves.

That’s why the Church lives forever with Jesus and churches die.

It all begins, continues, and never ends in worship.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Thursday, October 25, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms #29

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Showing Affection”

A young woman was becoming increasingly exasperated by her boyfriend’s inability to articulate his affection for her.

So while listening to lovebirds singing to each other, she asked, “Do you know what they’re saying to each other?”

“No,” he said.

They’re saying, “I love you!”

After several minutes of silence, she asked, “Do you know what they’re saying to each other now?”

“No,” he said.

She blurted, “Tell me!”

Have you ever loved someone who didn’t love you back?

Have you ever wanted to hug someone – I mean really hug ‘em with breath-taking-can’t-get-close-enough warmth and strength – pero…?

Have you ever cared for someone from the deepest recesses of your essence buuuuuuut they did not respond likewise?

Healthy people want romance.

Healthy people romance.

That’s how God made us.

Paul said a healthy couple “desires” each other.




It’s not healthy not to “desire” your lifemate and soulmate otherwise known as spouse.

That’s what the Bible says; and the Author knows because He made the recipients.

Read Solomon’s Song of Songs.

It’s about romance.

It’s pretty intense…graphic.

Toes curl when reading it.

That should get some of yu’uns into the Bible!

Definitely, it’s about romantic love between a woman and man.


What God has joined together wants to be together.

It’s also a metaphor for the kind of affection that God wants to share with us.

He wants us to be close to Him.

He wants us to hold tightly to Him.

Squeeze with affection.

He wants our relationship to be punctuated by bliss and mist and joyously and serenely singing poetry.

He wants us to worship Him.

Like a totally devoted lover, He yearns to hear, “I worship You!”

While I would never be as graphic in writing or speaking as Solomon in Song of Songs – I’ll bet some can’t wait to get to it now! – the parallel goes like this: “If you really love me/Me, you will show me/Me.”

Hold your breath and let’s take this to the next step of authentic affection: “If you really love me/Me, you will want to go with me/Me to the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical mountaintop of our mutual affection and allegiance.”

Are you getting the picture?

Temperature rising?

Psalm 29 is about turning up the heat in our relationship with God.

It’s about romancing God.

It’s about being so much in love with God that we can’t get enough of Him and desire to be with Him and never lose the determination to go the distance with Him.

We want to round the bases and go home with Him.

In short, Psalm 29 is about worshipping God.

“Give the Lord,” David leads us in a worship song, “the glory due His name.  Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.”

Whether it’s Hebrew or Greek, glory means gravity, weight, importance, allegiance, affection, and cross-any-river-climb-any-mountain dedicated determination to stay closer than that first slow dance in the high school gym.

Glory to God!

Glory to God above all!

Glory to God alone!

Nota bene.

David urges worship: “Give the Lord the glory due His name.”

In other words, worship is indispensably integral to the integrity and authenticity and permanence of the relationship.

Worship proves the relationship.

Like a marriage that fails because it loses its emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical intimacies, faith not shown/expressed/experienced in regular – let’s say compelled or irresistible or overwhelmingly desired and dedicated – worship becomes stale, lukewarm, and repulsive to nauseating.

Read more about that in Revelation 2-3.

Like a marriage that loses intimacies, faith without worship is soon detoured, distracted, distancing, adulterous, divorcing, and dead.

The parallel is unmistakable.

Marriage without intimacies is dissatisfying, vulnerable, and doomed.

Faith without worship is dissatisfying, vulnerable, and doomed.

Have you ever noticed the revolving door reality of just about all churches?

People come and go.

Yeah, many of ‘em will come up with reasons – good, bad, lame, contrived, auto-suggested, whatever - for their coming and going and church hopping and the like.

Regardless of the franchise, it’s not uncommon.

People are fickle, fragile, fallible, and fallen.

Too many folks go in and out of churches to be entertained or enabled or tickled.

The ones who stick and stay and survive and thrive have come to worship.

They haven’t come to be entertained or enabled or tickled or, as Dylan sang, find some unreliable priest who will be “an errand boy for their wandering desires.”

They have come and not gone to pay highest affection and allegiance to the One who made ‘em, saved ‘em, and sustains ‘em in time and forever.

They are the ones who “give the Lord the glory due His name and worship Him in the splendor of His holiness.”

I will never forget talking to Father Theodore about Brother Daniel.

It was over 35 years ago at Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri.

Anyway, Brother Daniel taught the best method of Bible study to me.

When I asked how he knew so much more about the Bible than me with his limited education compared to my arrogant ivy league and global academic credentials, he said, “I ask God what it means.”

Consequently, I was stunned when arriving at a subsequent visit to the Trappist monastery upon discovering Brother Daniel had left the monastery and married a dental assistant.

When I expressed my shock to Father Theodore, he said with a smile punctuated by peace, “Daniel was only here for 30 years.  Obviously, he was never really called to be a monk.”

Obviously, some people who come and go were never really…

Time tells.

Or as Paul explained, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Love never ends.”

And now you know why some people come and go and others come and stay.


Blessings and Love!


Shatter the sound of silence!

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

Salt!  Shine!  Leavenate!



Friday, October 19, 2018

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 28

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Don’t Mess with the Anointed!”

I’ll never forget the elder who closed a church meeting with this simple prayer: “Lord, You have been clear.  If we obey You, things will always work out.  Thank You in Jesus’ name.  Amen.”


That just about summarizes Biblical revelation of God’s existential and eternal care.

Obey God and be blessed by Him!

Or as we often sing, “Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”

Nahum explained, “God won’t tolerate anything that distracts from Him and will avenge and settle the score on behalf of His covenant people.  God will serve up justice…He cares for those who search for protection in Him.”

Did you notice the warning to those who mess with God’s people?

“God will avenge and settle the score on behalf of His covenant people.”

It’s a promise that goes back to Abraham: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.  I will make your name great.  You will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you.  Whoever curses you, I will curse.”

Don’t mess with God’s people!

Mess with ‘em and you’re gonna pay sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end!

When anyone messes with God’s people, they are fighting with God.

Considering God being God, His people have always liked the odds of being on His side.

History does not lie.

Ultimately, anyone who has ever messed with God’s people have paid for it.

Pharoah?  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 Empire?  Gone!

Who’s next?

Whoever messes with God’s anointed!

God loves His people!

God takes care of His people!

Sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end!

Nahum: “God will avenge and settle the score on behalf of His covenant people.”

If I were sitting in some government think tank in Iran, Egypt, Russia, or even the good old U.S.A., I would think twice and take a long look at history before I moved against the people of Israel.

Yogi said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

From Genesis through Revelation and ever since, God’s people end up in first place when the final standings are posted.

That’s the Biblical assurance and historical reality for people who have enough wisdom to go with the knowledge that nobody beats God in the end.

Psalm 28 outlines the good news.

Believers call on God and God saves.

Under assault from all directions as is always the case when you wake up, look up, stand up, speak up, and act up for Jesus by the book, David turned to the only One capable of saving here and now and forever: “Lord, I call to You.  If You remain silent, I’m done.  They are after me because I am for You.”

Believers like David know God will come through for them: “May the Lord be praised.  He hears our pleading.  The Lord is our strength and shield.  We trust Him because He always delivers.”

Believers like David know the greatest punch-line in history that is His story: “The Lord is our strength.  He is the stronghold of salvation for His anointed.”



Outnumbered yet victorious throughout His story.

No matter the size of the Goliath.

Not even crucifixion.

Empty tomb.

Nota bene!

Be mindful and careful and warned pewsitters and pulpiteers.

Be mindful and careful and warned parents.

Be mindful and careful and warned teachers and school board.

Be mindful and careful and warned media and entertainment.

Be mindful and careful and warned mayors and representatives and senators and judges and presidents.

Be mindful and careful and warned all nations.

If you keep on keepin’ on undermining Jesus by the book and insulting and injuring God’s people, you are offending their/the Father.

Psalm 28 along with the entirety of Biblical revelation and His story have warned you: “Don’t mess with God’s people!”

Believers will always experience comforting anticipation in this undeniable and ultimate reality.

As for those who keep messing with the anointed, I wouldn’t place any bets on ‘em in Vegas.


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 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!