Friday, May 17, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms #51

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms



Here’s the most obvious fact of our lives and the only remedy: “I’m not O.K. and you’re not O.K. but God says that’s O.K. because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.”

Maturity dictates that conclusion.

While we may not be as bad as our antagonists advertise, we’re not as good as we often pretend.

We’re messed up and need a Savior.

Praise God that we’ve got Him in Jesus!

Still, we’ve got to admit we need a Savior before we can turn to Him and be saved.

I’ll never forget my late friend Ted Nissen of Kansas City’s Colonial Presbyterian Church who was listening to another narcissistically self-righteous poser as she criticized him and just about everybody else on the staff and session and he finally said, “Excuse me, before we go on.  I have something in my eye.  What’s that I see in your eye?”

R.C. Sproul comes to mind who often warned, “Pray for mercy but don’t pray for justice because you may get it!”

Truth is everybody’s messed up and needs Jesus to save them from their sins by grace through faith in Jesus that forever restores relationships with Father God and His family.

That includes you and me.

No one has ever lived who doesn’t need Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It’s the most basic fact about the most basic need in our lives: “I’m not O.K. and you’re not O.K. but God says that’s O.K. because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.”

David knew that about himself.

When he looked into the mirror, he didn’t see God’s other son.
He saw a peeping Tom, adulterer, and murderer.

A dirtbag.

Most commentators think David wrote Psalm 51 after being caught with his pants down on the wrong side of town with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba.

You know the rest of that story.

To cover up his adultery, David had Uriah put in the front lines of a war like a Second Lieutenant landing on the beaches of Europe during WWII.  

From peeping to sleeping around to covering up his tracks with murder, David was a sinner needing a Savior.

He begins with a plea for mercy; knowing judgment would be damning: “Have mercy on me, God, for I know my sins against You…I know how bad I’ve been.  My sins are staring me down.”

David admits his sins – rejections of God’s will for his life – have insulted God’s holiness and hurt God because God is hurt whenever we hurt anyone else (Jesus explained, “As you do it to them, you do it to Me!”): “I’ve sinned against You.  You’re the one I’ve violated.  I’ve been out of step with You for a long time.”

David knows he deserves to be punished: “I have sinned and done evil in Your sight.  You are right when You pass sentence.  You are blameless when You judge.  Whatever You decide to do to me is fair.”

David doesn’t deny his instincts are bad: “It’s in my DNA.  I’ve been this way since I was born.  It goes back to the garden.  There’s nothing original about my sin.  It’s genetic.  I was guilty when I was born.  I was sinful when conceived.  Nobody had to teach me how to sin.  It’s the most
natural thing for me to do.”

David promises to model Someone better with God’s help: “You desire integrity in the inner self.  You teach me wisdom.  Purify me.  Wash me.  Create a clean heart for me.  Renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Open my lips and mouth to praise You.  You don’t want religious sacrifices.  You want me; humbly submitted to You.  Going through the motions doesn’t please You.  You aren’t after mumbo-jumbo-blah-blah-blah religion.  It’s now a show.  You want my heart.  You want my worship.  You want me to love You in thought, word, and action.”

In short, David admitted, “I’m not O.K.  I did it.  I did all of it.  I’m not hiding it.  Help me!”

God received David’s authentic confession (admittance of sin) and repentance (turning from sin to Him) and restored the relationship of a child with his Father.

1 John 1 sums up God’s plan for redemption/restoration/forgiveness that David sang/prayed about in Psalm 51: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Again, it’s the most basic fact and need of our lives; “I’m not O.K. and you’re not O.K. but says that’s O.K. because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.”

One more word.

Remember, you’re not O.K.

Not just them.

I am not O.K. and you are not O.K.

As Paul said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Not just ya’ll.


You and I and everybody else need Jesus no more nor no less than anybody else.

Everybody needs Jesus to save them; and everybody’s got Him by grace through faith.

O.K., one more word; and a most important word about God’s redemption/restoration/forgiveness plan from God in Jesus Himself: “If you forgive others, I will forgive you.  If you expect Me to forgive you, you must forgive others.  If so, so.  If not, not.”

Considering what’s in our eyes, it makes sense to be near-sighted first; then we can see far enough ahead to save the judgment for the One whose love always invites, welcomes, and includes here and now and forever by grace through faith.



Blessings and Love!


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

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!





Thursday, May 9, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 50)

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms



During my first trip to Jerusalem back in the early 80s, I had a personal guide that kept saying, “Everything holy here!”

From kids trying to sell me a piece of the “true cross” or some creepy old guy who swore he’d sell a “really nice” picture of Bathsheba to me to a stone dating back to Solomon that I stole from the Temple Mount that’s in my study and will be returned when I get my one-way ticket back from the church, it was a rude introduction to idolatry that’s always been a problem with religious people no matter how much God warned against it in Holy Scripture as distracting from His best for us.

While I’m sure this will provoke some hate mail and though I’ve been there many times and love art and architecture dedicated to the glory of God, the recent “sky is falling” wailings over the fire at Notre Dame in Paris punctuate the prophetic point.

Again, as bikers say, if I have to explain that to you…


If I have to explain that to you, it means your religion about God dwarfs any personal relationship with Him.


Everything turns back to dust.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about what lasts forever in heaven by grace through faith in Him.

Our souls are eternal.

Just about everything else turns back to dust.

Kansas remains right.

Again, as bikers say…

Truth is God designed and created us in His image; meaning we are at the apex of His created order and especially loved and ultimately preserved for paradise by grace through faith in Jesus.


That’s why the Bible says over and over and over again, we are holy or especially separated from the rest of creation for a personal communion with God not limited to time and space.

Yep, Israel, Notre Dame, the corner of Lincoln and Main, Wrigley and Soldier Fields, Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and all of the rest are important and worth our preservation and protection yet not as valuable to God as any one of His children.

Annnnnnnd the more we think like God, the more will be our care of His children than bricks and brass plaques and things of lesser value.

You and I and everybody else are God’s ultimate handiwork or artwork that esteems humanity over everything else.

That’s the big theme of Psalm 50: “Gather My consecrated people to Me who made a covenant with Me to be Mine…I will show them My salvation.”

I really like Peterson’s paraphrase: “Round up My saints who swore on the Bible their loyalty to Me…Time’s up for playing fast and loose with Me…It’s the praising life that honors Me…I’ll show you…[them]…My salvation.”

It’s that other great, great, great theme of Holy Scripture: “Those who honor God will be honored by God.”

If so, so.

If not, not.

We are consecrated or holy or separated from people who don’t know God and make Him known.

It’s our covenant/agreement with God.

Paul wrote, “Present yourselves as a living sacrifice to God.  Be holy and pleasing to God.  Don’t be like everybody else.  Be a non-conformist to the world.  Conform to God!”

That’s the consecrated/holy covenant/agreement.

Again, Peterson: “So here’s what I want you to do…Take your every-day, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering…Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.”

I’ll never forget Dr. Macleod chastening us about preaching: “When you get in the pulpit, say something!  For God’s sake, say something!  If you don’t have something to say for God, don’t get in the pulpit!  Your preaching must be more than 3 points and a poem!  Comfort the afflicted!  Afflict the comfortable!  Say something for God’s sake!”

Then there was Dr. McCord who almost seemed to be scolding five of us as he drew on a 60+ ring Cuban on the fifth floor of the Hilton Hotel in Baltimore during a denominational meeting back in the mid-70s, “For Christ’s sake, do something!  I don’t care whether you succeed or fail but, for Christ’s sake, do something!”

That came to mind as I chatted and prayed with our beloved Mona Sorensen on April 17, 2019 as she was traveling home to Jesus.

I sent a text to our staff about our time that day: “Extended wonderfully warm time with Mona…These early mornings have become so especially precious considering all of the other stuff that I endure…Anyway, après updating her on the renovations and Holy Week, we talked about heaven, my covetousness about it, her calm about it, and why neither of us ever considered retirement.”

That last part: “and why neither of us ever considered retirement.”

She laughed when I said, “No way am I retiring!  I’ve avoided those honey-do lists for over 40 years.  No way!”

Then we got serious and she said, “As long as your health holds out, keep going, Bob!”

That’s what Mona did!

Not only did she understand her call to help align our hearts to God through music, she never stopped until her body did; even playing for our first Sunday worship service just weeks before traveling back to Jesus.

Parenthetically, she also had been giving her compensation from the church back to the church because she knew the church needs it more than she did; and understood the call of Jesus to those holy in/through/for Him: “Serve God by serving people and don’t serve yourself at the expense of serving God by serving people.  Seek to serve not be served!”

I know that’s a big reason why Mona, far more than most, traveled home to Jesus with such “strong calm sanity.”

Mona was consecrated.

She was holy in/through/for God.

Holy people never stop until they’re stopped.

Holy people keep keepin’ on.

That’s the consecrated covenant between God and His faithful family.

Not everything is holy.

Not everyone is holy.

Pero to those who are trying while relying on Jesus to fill the gap between what is and ought to be in the end by grace through faith comes the reassurance of Psalm 50: “Gather My consecrated people to Me…I will show them My salvation.”


Blessings and Love!


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

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!





Friday, May 3, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 49

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“The Way Back”

With sales still trailing the toothy guy in Texas by about a trillion to one – talk about humiliation – I wasn’t surprised when a guy at Bad Ash Cigars down in Oregon, Illinois said après I gave a box of non-best-sellers to the owner Barry to give away to anyone that would take ‘em said, “Hey, I didn’t know you wrote books.”

I replied, “That’s O.K.  Obviously, there aren’t many people on the planet that know I’ve written books.  As a matter of fact, I think Amazon is giving ‘em away and offering free postage to anyone that’ll take ‘em.”

I should have taken a hint in speech class in seminary.

While we had homiletics classes to learn about the theology and methodology of preaching, we also had speech classes to work on delivery.

My first speech professor was Virginia Damon.

She died in August 2010 at the age of 94.

She was an accomplished actress before joining the seminary staff and had toured with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney as Alice Cramden for The Honeymooners.

Virginia was a tough and no nonsense demanding teacher and coach.

We called her V D for short.

Anyway, I’ll never forget what she said to me after my first “performance” in class: “Well, you’re not a basket case.  We’ll see what we can do with you.”

I should have had her review my writing too.

It’s true for all of us.

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

That’s the shortened version of 1 Corinthians 15:8-10.

We’re all basket cases without God.

We worship God because God deserves to be worshipped and we need God because, as David sang, “God inhabits the praises of His people.”

That’s the main message of Psalm 49.

We’re all basket cases without God.

Specifically, David says God can be trusted and only God can be trusted for sanity, safety, and security: “Only God redeems/restores my life…God snatches me from the clutch of death, He reaches down and grabs me.  He saves me.”

David differentiates the sanity, safety, and security of trusting God alone from the futility of trusting anyone or anything but God.

David writes, sings, and prays about the futility of seeking sanity, safety, and security from anyone and anything but God throughout the Psalms and his son Solomon does the same in Ecclesiastes: “My advice is to remember your Creator…Remember Him…Worship in reverence the one true God, and keep His commands.”

Solomon, like his dad as confirmed throughout Holy Scripture, concludes everything is meaningless, temporary, and unsatisfying apart from God: “Life is fleeting, like a passing mist.  It is like trying to catch hold of a breath…Pleasure, work, wealth, wine, laughter, accomplishments, achievements…All are fleeting.”

I’ve always thought early 15th century monk Gerard Groote as recorded and edited by another monk Thomas a Kempis caught the difference so well in the opening pages of The Imitation of Christ: “’He that followeth Me,’ saith the Lord, ‘walketh not in darkness’…Let therefore our chiefest endeavour be, to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ…Whosoever will fully and with relish understand the words of Christ, must endeavour to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ…Surely profound words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God…All is vanity except to love God, and to serve Him only…Vanity therefore it is, to seek after perishing riches…to hunt after honours…to follow the desires of the flesh…to long after that for which thou must afterwords suffer grievous punishment…to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well…to set thy love on that which speedily passeth away, and not  hasten thither where everlasting joy abideth.”

The punch line: “Endeavour therefore to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and to turn thyself to things invisible.  For they that follow their own sensuality, defile their conscience, and lose the grace of God.”

God alone for existential and eternal salvation is the answer.

Repeating this timeless and time-conquering theme of faith is the unequivocal conclusion of Psalm 49: “There is no such thing as self-rescue…The cost of rescue is beyond our means…There isn’t enough wealth in the world to save ourselves…Wealth, wisdom, and every other human effort and invention fall short…Anyone can see that the brightest and best die…So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune.  They can’t take it with them…Only God saves!”

In short, life is meaningless apart from God.

Life, as David concluded the psalm, ends without God: “We don’t last long.  Like our dogs, we age and weaken.  And die.”

If we want to live better in time and live forever after time, there is only one way: in, through, and for God.

Hence, the most important decision anyone can make while still breathing is to get back to God.

That’s why Jesus told us to go out into the world to be witnesses to the confident living and eternal life available to everyone/anyone by grace through faith in Him.

That’s why the most loving thing that anyone can do for anyone else is to point them to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

We used to call it evangelism or spreading the best news of all that everyone/anyone can live better in time and live forever in paradise after time by grace through faith in Jesus.

If we know God in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we make God in Jesus known as Lord and Savior.

We tell what/who we know.

Paul wrote, “Jesus wants everybody to be saved.”

Or as Jesus Himself said, “For God so loved the world that He came in Jesus to save it; so that whoever believes in Him will live forever.”
God didn’t go through all of the trouble of the manger and cross for any other purpose than to save people for Himself in heaven.

Again, Jesus said, “God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.”

I’ve always liked the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.

You know the story.

Quick summary.

A child leaves home and lives like a bum in the pigpens of life.

He comes to his senses, goes home, and his father welcomes him and restores his life.


Of course, the older brother, who was much better than his younger brother except for pride that some say is the most deadly of sins because it plays out as if the person doesn’t really need to be saved as if that could be accomplished without grace through faith in Jesus, has to be convinced by the father that there’s always got to be a way back home for everyone/anyone because that’s what the father wants most.

Get it?

God the Father wants everyone to come back home.

It goes like this.

Everyone/anyone who has left home and lived in the pigpens of life can return home as long as they wake up, come to their senses, and head back home to the Father.

There is a way back home for everyone/anyone.

That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Everyone/anyone can be saved from the meaninglessness of life accentuated by trusting in anyone and anything that never delivers in the end by turning back to God and renewing their relationship with God.

Admittedly, there are some people who can’t be renewed in their relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus because they’ve never been newed or born again and above.

If a person hasn’t been newed, they can’t be renewed.

If a person has never invited Jesus into the heart as Lord and Savior and has never really trusted Him as Lord and Savior in time for all time, the way back begins with that decision to invite Him into the heart as Lord and Savior.

Whether renewing or newing, the way back to God is by grace through faith in Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Annnnnnnd to the liars and deceivers and other suppressors of the truth in conspiracy with satanos to steal and slaughter souls, Jesus doesn’t care who, what, where, when, why, or how a person finds her/his way back to Him.

He wants everybody back home.

He wants to save everybody.

Jesus is the way back home: “Come to Me, everyone/anyone, and I will take care of you…here and now…and forever!”


Blessings and Love!


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

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!





Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Does God Favor Democrats or Republicans?

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


    Recently, I was asked apres a preface, "You have a lot to say about a lot of things.  Do you think God favors Democrats or Republicans?"

    With Will and Ariel Durant's conclusion about the life span of empires in mind not to mention Biblical eschatology along with the Abrahamic covenant and contextual verities of retribution not always obviated by grace through faith in Jesus, it's an important interrogative.

    The interrogative is integral to how people coming from a Judeo-Christian heritage and continuing devotion will vote in 2020.

    Well, I don't believe God is double-minded.

    God has gone to great extremes to reveal His mind in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.

    Our double-mindedness about ethics born of Judeo-Christian theology betrays the darkly depraved instinct to create God in humanity's image; assuming the Bible is not bigger than our favorite parts.

    Anyone who actually reads the Bible knows it is clear, conclusive, and compelling to holy, holy, holy communion on all matters of belief and behavior.

    O.K., there are some gray parts; pero not as many as pretended to enable belief and behavior antithetical to Biblical revelation.

    O.K., the Bible allows for exceptions to the rules; yet exceptions to the rules are called exceptions to the rules because they occur so infrequently that they are exceptions to the rules which means it's prudent to play by the rules while acknowledging exceptions.

    Having said that, while I may be wrong, I believe it will be clear who God favors in 2020.

    Just look at the platforms and "principles" propagandized by the two major political parties in America and compare them to the compellingly conclusive clarity of the Bible when it comes to life, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, voting rights for felons, reparations, green deals, family, marriage, borders, Constitution, socialism, taxes, welfare, warfare, and everything else.

    Though no one is pure and perfect in every way which is why Jesus came to save sinners by grace through faith, I am convinced scrutiny of the Democrats and Republicans juxtaposed to the Bible will betray affinities, affections, and allegiances to God by the book or somebody/something else.

    That's why it's so silly for people who say they are part of America's Judeo-Christian heritage to approach issues and challenges before thinking, reflecting, consulting, and praying about them through their Biblical filter.

    Candidly, starting with the Bible before addressing issues and challenges will provide the compellingly conclusive clarity that could save the republic and model Someone better for the rest of the planet and be the antidote for its thanatos libido.

    Let me put this another way through the eyes of someone (moi) living in the ghetto of one part of America's Judeo-Christian heritage.

    When we are faced with an issue or challenge on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois, we have learned to begin deliberations with this simple confessional approach: "While I may be wrong, this is what I think according to my understanding of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense.  If you can show me how I am wrong, by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I will recant, repent, and ask for your forgiveness.  Buuuuuuut if you cannot show me how I am wrong by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I'm not really interested in your opinions unrelated to our Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional and common sense faith."

    So, yes, I do believe it is possible to see, more than less with compellingly conclusive clarity, which political parties are favored by God.

    Of course, once digested, we have to decide if God as revealed through our Judeo-Christian heritage founded upon and filtered through the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament is more persuasive at the polls than our navel-gazing idolatries and auto-suggestions that are often only coincidental to our pretended theology.


Blessings & Love


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

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!