Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 53

Kopp Disclosure

(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Religion and Politics Don’t Mix”

          You’ve heard it before.

          Religion and politics don’t mix.

          I don’t know about that.

          Pero I know Jesus says people who follow Him as Lord and Savior are the good leaven that mixes in everywhere with everyone about everything to make it all better by bringing His grace, mercy, and forgiveness wrapped in agape to anyone at anytime anywhere.

          People who say Christians should not get involved in politics or talk about politics in church don’t know the heart of Jesus and betray their Biblical ignorance.

          People who lionize or demonize 44 or 45 like pathetic idolaters that God has chided because no one is pure and perfect in every way and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and everyone needs Jesus as Lord and Savior by grace through faith to make up for their frailties, foibles, failures, and fallenness don’t know the heart of Jesus and betray their Biblical ignorance.

          People who are willing to enable America to accelerate its distancing from God in government, courtrooms, classrooms, commerce, entertainment, media, and all of the rest don’t know the heart of Jesus and betray Biblical ignorance.

          Psalm 53 comes to mind.

          Bringing Psalms 2 and 14 back to mind, Psalm 53 repeats the intellectual stupidity of denying the existence of God and, ergo, not governing life in faith and obedience to God as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.

          David begins, “Morons say ‘God doesn’t exist’ and they act like it…They are self-centered, egotistical, narcissistic, lining their own pockets, and don’t really care for God’s people because they don’t really care about the God that they deny…Too bad there are so many of them that make things so bad for everybody else by mixing in to make it worse.”

          David reveals the heart of God about the atheism in mind that generates behaviors without God in mind: “God sticks His head out of heaven, looks around for someone not stupid but smart enough to seek Him and finds so many who have turned against Him that His anger grows…God will not let them get away with it…He will reject them sooner or later…Night more like a nightmare is coming soon for them.”

          Fortunately, reminding us of remnant theology and the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 18 confirmed throughout the Bible, David repeats humanity’s ray of hope: “God turns life around for those who turn to Him…God restores people who want to be unchained to the world and free to be His in all things at all times in all places with all people.”

          Recently, I was asked après 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 only survived by the remnant that are 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 extremes to reveal His mind in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament.

          Our double-mindedness about ethics born of Biblical 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 areas; 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, weed, 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, studying, 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 it 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/commitment: “While we may be wrong, this is what we think according to our understanding of Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense.  If you can show us how we are wrong by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, we will recant, repent, and ask for your forgiveness.  Buuuuuuut if you cannot expose our error by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, we’re not really interested in your opinions unrelated to our Biblical, confessional, constitutional, historical, traditional, and common sense faith.”

          So, yes, I 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.

          So I’ve been thinking about suggesting a Sunday School class for all churches still committed to Jesus by the book to assess the platforms and “principles” of the Democrats and Republicans and all of their candidates for all offices juxtaposed to the Bible and seek that compellingly conclusive clarity before casting votes.

          I believe that is the only Christian thing to do.

          Unless convinced otherwise by Jesus, Holy Scripture, and common sense, I believe that is the only Christian thing to do.

          When we act like there is a sovereign (Father), saving (Jesus), and sustaining (Holy Spirit) God, it shows we believe there is a God and we are determined devotionally to embrace, esteem, and herald Him as God.

          If enough remnant churches do that, maybe the republic can be saved.

          Moretheless, God will smile on the faithful and that’s all that matters in the end.

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 23, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms #52

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“Answering the Call”

          There is only one sin that God will not forgive.

          It’s blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or denying the Holy Spirit’s witness to Father God’s salvation for anyone by grace through faith in Jesus.

          Jesus said God forgives every sin but that one.

          Jesus spelled it out: “No one gets to the Father except through Me.”

          No one in history has been more invitational, inclusive, and welcoming as Jesus: “Come to Me, everybody, and I will take care of you.”

          Paul said Jesus wants everybody to be saved.

          Jesus shows no color, class, or culture favoritism.

          He is the proof perfect that God loves the world; and that means everybody, anybody, you, me, and them.

          No exceptions except for those who exclude themselves.

          He said He stands at the door of every heart and knocks for entrance to give the confident living and eternal life that He wants for everybody.

          The choice for everybody is to open or close that door.

          Those who open the door enter into an existential and eternally saving relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus.

          Those who don’t don’t, won’t, and aren’t.

          Their exclusion is self-inflicted and self-destructive.

          God doesn’t do that to them.

          They do it to themselves.

          The April 10, 2019 meeting of the Boone County Ministerial Association comes to mind.

          Jim Bell, the faithful pastor of Belvidere, Illinois’ First United Methodist Church, brought the good news of a creative Matthew 25 ministry through public venues.

          He said the only challenge would be to maintain our confessional integrity in the midst of increasing inhibitions about Christianity in public schools, government, media, and so on.

          At that point, someone said, “Well, you don’t have to talk about Jesus all of time when you’re serving people.”

          Instantaneously and simultaneously, three pastors blurted out, “Yes, you do!”

          I could hear Paul in the background with the like-minded, “I am not ashamed of Jesus!  He is God’s power for salvation for everybody by grace through faith in Him!”

          I could also hear many Biblical warnings about those who are so willing to deny Jesus, deceive and seduce people from Jesus, and suffer the consequences for their apostasy.

          Here’s an abridged sampling.

          1 John: “Who is the liar?  It’s the one who denies Jesus is Lord and Savior…This is how you know the Spirit of God: Everyone who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God…Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God is in God…Everyone who believes Jesus is Lord and Savior is born of God…”

          2 John: “Many deceivers are in the world and they do not confess Jesus to be Lord and Savior…Anyone who does not remain in the teaching about Jesus does not have God…If anyone comes to you and says Jesus is not Lord and Savior, do not welcome him…”

          Jude: “Deceivers have slithered into the church to turn God’s grace into promiscuity by denying Jesus our Master as Lord and Savior.”

          Jesus Himself promised and warned at the same time, “Everyone who acknowledges Me will be acknowledged by Me before Father God in heaven.  But whoever denies Me will be denied by Me before Father God in heaven.”

          Our yes to Jesus assures His yes to us.

          Our no to Jesus…well, sigh…we don’t want to go there.

          Psalm 52 was David’s particular response to a betrayal and treachery that led to many deaths (see 1 Samuel 22); and it continues to provide a picture of a denying deceiver’s evil character, a believer’s response to a denying deceiver, and the praise evoked by a believer’s confidence in God to endure, overcome, and celebrate ultimate victory with the family of faith.

          Denying deceivers are all the same: “You deny God and brag about evil.  Your plan treachery and terror.  You love evil not good.  You say dark is light and light is dark and good is bad and bad is good.  You lie like your real father.”

          A believer’s response to a denying deceiver is irrepressibly positive, hopeful, and optimistic: “God will bring you down sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end…Awestruck by God, we will laugh at your ruin and scorn, ‘They tried to seduce us into salvation apart from God’s anointed.  They tried to join them apart from God as refuge.  They tried to trick us into denying God’s salvation and join them in their destructive behaviors.’”

          Believers respect God and express gratitude for enduring and overcoming in worship: “We are like flourishing olive trees in God’s house.  Our trust in God is evergreen.  God is good!  God is great!  God saves!”

          God calls us to live in/through/for Him.

          Anti-God agents of darkness orchestrated by satanos call us to death apart from God.

          Robocalls come to mind.

          Consumer Reports had a big article on robocalls (May 2019).

          They also had a big article on all of the bad stuff in ice cream.  I didn’t read it.

          CR says there were 48 billion robocalls in America last year or an average of 1500 calls a second!

          There are good robocalls reminding us of upcoming doctors’ appointments or reminders to vote.

          There are bad robocalls trying to scare, scam, and spam us with 15% of the defrauded Americans last year alone.

          How do you know the good calls from the bad ones?

          Good calls are recognizable.

          Bad calls are not recognizable and are usually pre-recorded and asking for private information like SS #s and credit card account #s that nobody in her/his right mind would give out over the phone to unrecognized people. 

          Before answering, you’ve got to know who’s calling.

          How do you know if your church, country, and all the rest are from God?



          Summarily as repeated so often throughout the Bible, “If anyone comes to you denying Jesus is Lord and Savior, that person is not to be trusted pero avoided, and contradicted.”

          It’s all about Jesus.

          His call is the only one worth answering.

          Let me put Him another way.

          I remember hearing about a man who fell into a pit.

          He cried for help.

          A legalist came by and said, “You should have known pits are dangerous.”

          A pessimist said, “You’re going to die in that pit.”

          An optimist said, “I’ve seen worse pits.”

          A realist said, “That’s a pit.  Deal with it!”

          An atheist declined to admit it was a pit.

          Jesus came by and called to the man, “Do you want Me to help you?  Will you trust Me to help you?”

          The man said, “Yes, Lord.”

          Then Jesus went down into the pit and lifted the man out of it.

          The moral of the story.

          When Jesus calls, answer.

          How do we say that on the corner of Lincoln and Main in Belvidere, Illinois?

          Jesus is the answer to every question!

          When Jesus calls, answer.

          Jesus saves.

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 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!