Tag Archives: Dan Kopp

An Acronym for LIFE

Why are we here?  What is this life all about?

Dan Kopp’s 4-3-16 message, “The Power of Now” focused on Matthew 22:36-40 where Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment: love God and love others.  Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a Christian, I’m guessing you’ve heard that commandment before.  In his message, Dan put an interesting spin on it: we can’t love someone that we’re not aware of.  Just as we can’t love those around us if we’re not paying attention to them, we can’t love God if we’re not aware of God.

Jacob felt that way in Genesis 28.  Verse 12 tells us that “As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven.  And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.”  God spoke to Jacob from the top of that stairway, telling him about his future, and reassuring Jacob that He would be with him, protecting him.  Jacob woke up saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”  (v. 16)  When Jacob became aware that God was with him, he called that place “Bethel”, the house of God and the gate of heaven.

Guess who else is spoken of as the gate of heaven and as a stairway between heaven and earth?  Check out John 1:51 (NLT):

“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.””

That was Jesus speaking about himself.  And in John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

In Matthew 1:23 (CEB), an angel appeared to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife saying, “Look!  A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel.  (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)”

Emmanuel.  God with us.  Jesus.  The gate of heaven.  The stairway between heaven and earth.  He is with us.  And what does this mean for us?

Dan went on in his message to quote what theologians have said about “The Power of Now”:

1) Greg Boyd, in his book Present Perfect, said “Over the last twenty-plus years . . . I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus.”

2) Frank Laubach, known as “the Apostle to the Illiterates” and honored with his own postage stamp in 1984, said this in Practicing His Presence, “One question to be put to the test is this: Can we have contact with God all the time?  All the time awake, fall asleep in His arms, and awaken in His presence?  Can we attain that?  Can we do His will all the time?  Can we think His thoughts all the time?  Can I bring the Lord back in my mind flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind?  I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering that question.”

3) And Brother Lawrence, in his classic book, Practicing The Presence of God, said “If I were a preacher, above everything else I would preach the practice of dwelling in the presence of Christ.”

Dwelling in His presence.  Did you know that the name Beth means “dwelling” or “house of God”?  I love that.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)  My name is Beth, but even if yours is not, you are still a temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place for God’s presence.

I completely agree with Greg Boyd, Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence, but I didn’t know how to phrase it until now.  This is it:  “Can I bring the Lord back in my mind flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind?  I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering that question.”

So, back to this life of ours.  Why are we here?  I’ve been messing with an acronym for the word “L.I.F.E.” for quite some time now.  Listening to Dan’s message this morning brought it together for me:

Legacy
Impact
Focus
Emmanuel

Translated:

Our Legacy (later) and our Impact (now) depend on our Focus on Emamanuel (God with us).

You see, if God is with us, what have we to fear?  If God is with us, The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans:

“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.  And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”  -Romans 8:11 (NLT)

LIFE to your mortal bodies.  But that LIFE starts with awareness.  Focus on Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.  And what’s the best way to keep our focus on Him?  Thank Him.  Praise Him.  Rejoice.  Once again, the Apostle Paul comes to our rescue with words that help us put this into action:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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I love these verses so much that I had them engraved on the back of my iPod.  🙂

Keep in mind that Paul didn’t instruct us to give thanks FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances.  No matter how miserable things get, we always have something to thank Him for.  This is God’s will for all of us.  If you’d like to read more on this subject, please do check out these blog posts:  Moment by Moment, Life that Really Matters, The Swivel Chair, Daddy’s Shoulders, to name a few.

And here’s how Dan ended his sermon.  Again, the Apostle Paul to the rescue, this time to the church in Ephesus (and to us!).  Couldn’t be more appropriate:

“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. -Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP)

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Money without Meaning

It’s official.  Our $1.5 Billion PowerBall lottery dreams are gone.  All of the hopes and plans for that money, or even just a small part of it, are no longer.  But it sure created a buzz while it lasted.  What would you do with all of that money?

Did you know that Jesus taught more on money than on any other subject?  There are more than 2000 verses in the Bible about money.  That’s more than prayer, more than faith, more than forgiveness, heaven, hell and the Kingdom of God.  Check out some of the “financial” words that God uses to describe His relationship with us:

1) we are redeemed (Is. 44:22, Lam. 3:58, Gal. 3:13),
2) we are reconciled (Rom. 5:10, 2 Cor. 5:18-20, Col. 1:22),
3) our debt is cancelled (Luke 7:41-43, Col. 2:14),
4) Jesus became poor so that we might become rich (2 Cor. 6:10 & 8:9),
5) we cannot serve two masters, both God and money (Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13).

And that’s just a small sampling.

There’s a hymn that describes the gospel of Jesus this way:

“He paid a debt He did not owe,
I owed a debt I could not pay”
He Paid a Debt by Ellis J. Crum

Let’s take that a step further.  What if Jesus is more powerful than PowerBall?  What if He died so that all of our debts would be forgiven, literally?  What if our mortgage was paid, our cars were paid, we had no credit card debt, no student loan debt, or any debt at all, and all of the food, clothing and shelter we would ever need were provided for us?

Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:24 about not serving two masters and goes on to say:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”
-Matt. 6:25-26 (ESV)

Our heavenly Father knows that we need food and clothing, and He provides them for the birds and flowers.  Why wouldn’t He provide them for us?  We’re so caught up in making money, saving money, spending money, moving money around, worrying that there won’t be enough money, trying to figure out how to get things without money (lotteries, loans, credit cards, getting you to give me something), anxious and distracted.

What if we never had to think about money again?  What if wealth and power and greed had no meaning?  What if I didn’t need to be concerned about what you had (envy, jealously, keeping up with the Jones’s), because I had everything I needed?  What if I were content down to my bones?  What would my life be about?  Would I go to work?  Would I strive?  Would I do anything?  What would define me?

The Apostle Paul says this in his letter to the Romans:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
-Romans 13:8-10 (NIV)

What if Jesus is the one who takes away the debt of the world?  What if believing in Him and receiving Him means that we get to see the world through His eyes?  Would our entire focus change?  Would we no longer be slaves to the “stuff that makes the world go round”?  Would we instead be free to love one other, because that’s what Jesus does and that’s what He wants to do through us?  Would that be Heaven on Earth?

The Eastside Vineyard Church started a new series on Heaven a few weeks back.  In Dan Kopp’s 1-17-16 message called Looking (and Praying) Down from Above, he asked two questions:

1) If someone from Heaven could talk to you, what do you think they would say?

2) If someone in Heaven was praying for you, what do you hope they’d be praying for?

Do you think they’d tell us that we should focus on accumulating more while we’re here (“whoever dies with the most stuff wins”?) or do you think they would pray that we would focus on what really matters?  PowerBall or the Power of God?  It’s only by His power that we can truly love one another.  We don’t have it in us.  But if He is in us, we have all we need.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matt. 6:33 (ESV)

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain
All sufficient sacrifice
So freely given
Such a price
Bought our redemption
Heaven’s gates swing wide
Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture

Through Heaven’s Eyes

“If you looked in the mirror and saw yourself through God’s eyes, what are some things you can imagine He’d say about what He sees?”

That was Dan Kopp’s sneak preview to his 9-6-15 message at The Eastside Vineyard Church called “The Lying Mirror“.  In that message, Dan quoted Leif Hetland’s book, “Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes“:

“We all have a need for significance.  Besides survival, it is the strongest drive we have.  We need to know that our life matters, that who we are and why we are here counts for something.  So… who are you?  And why are you here?

You are God’s crowning achievement, His masterpiece.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made.  You were also purposefully made.  You are here for a reason – to bear God’s image and to establish His heavenly Kingdom on earth.  You are a co-creator with Him, a co-ruler with Him, and a co-lover with Him.  He has chosen you to dance in step with the Trinity . . . In this vast and expansive universe, you matter.  You!  You are loved beyond comprehension.  You are precious beyond words.  You are valued beyond measure.”

Then Dan did something beautiful.  He took that quote, line by line, and gave us God’s Word for each part (click on the red references to go to each verse at Biblegateway.com):

You are God’s crowning achievement (He saved the best for last):  Genesis 1:26-27
You are God’s masterpiece:  Ephesians 2:10
You were fearfully and wonderfully made:  Psalm 139: 13-14
You were purposefully made:  Ephesians 2:10
You were made in the image of God:  Colossians 3:10
You are here to establish God’s heavenly Kingdom on earth:  John 14:12
You are a co-creator with Him (He has given you gifts):  Exodus 35:30-31
You are a co-ruler with Him:  Genesis 1:26
You are a co-lover with Him:  Galatians 5:6
You get to join the dance with the Triune God:  John 17:1-5 **(see below)
You matter!  You are crowned with glory and honor:  Psalm 8:5-6
You are loved beyond comprehension:   Ephesians 3:17-18
You are precious beyond words:  Psalm 116:15
You are valued beyond measure:  Matthew 6:26

God is not mad at us.  He’s not disappointed in us.  He loves us.  He likes us.  He delights in us.  He longs to see us blossom into who He sees we can become.  If we could look in the mirror and see what God sees, would it change the way we live?  Would we stop wasting energy beating ourselves up and instead put that energy into receiving God’s love and passing it along to those around us?

“When you need comfort, I love to enfold you in My arms.  I enable you not only to feel comforted but also to be a channel through whom I comfort others.  Thus you are doubly blessed, because a living channel absorbs some of whatever flows through it.”
– Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence“, October 16th

I want to be that living channel.  I want to absorb God’s love as it flows through me to other people.  But in my own strength, I can’t do it.  And it’s not a matter of trying harder.  It’s a matter of trusting Jesus.  I need to turn to Him, thank Him, and breathe in His gift of life, moment by moment, day by day.  Rest, receive and pass it on.

“My calling is outside of my ability to fulfill it.  Only Jesus living through me can do it.”
– Beth Moore’s 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast

“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You”

– Matt Maher, “Lord, I Need You

**If you’ve ever wondered why God created us and why He is Three Persons in One (the “Triune God” or the “Trinity”), check out Dan Kopp’s message from 8-30-15 called “Dancing with the Triune God“.  Dan paints an incredible picture that you need to see with your own eyes.  Take 30 minutes to watch.  You’ll be so glad you did.

Hearing Aids

When is the last time you’ve heard from God?  It’s hard to hear Him with all of the noise around us, but I believe that God still speaks today.

Maybe we’re afraid to hear what He has to say and we’d rather tune Him out.  Maybe we think He’s mad at us; that He’s going to lecture us about all the things we’ve done wrong.  Or maybe we think He’s going to tell us to become a missionary in Africa.  Or He’ll tell us to forgive someone we could never, ever forgive.  So we crank up the radio, turn on the TV,  check our Facebook status, go shopping, volunteer at church, anything to stay distracted and busy, busy, busy.

Or maybe we want to hear from God, but we’re not sure how.  How does He speak?  In the 20 years I’ve been following Jesus, I’ve heard from God in many different ways.  I’ve never seen or spoken to Jesus directly, but I know someone who has.  Check out Jaya Sankar’s Story to read, and hear directly from Jaya, about his encounter with the Living God.  Here are some ways that I hear from God.  I hope they act as “hearing aids” for you:

1) The Bible

God speaks when I read the Bible.  Not every time.  Sometimes I’m just reading words, but other times the Word truly is living and active, penetrating, dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:13).  Those times are well worth waiting for.  Energizing, exhilarating, mysterious, thrilling to the core.  If we’re going to recognize someone’s voice, we need to get to know them.  What better way to get to know God than to read the love letter He wrote to us?

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3), so if we want to know God, we need to get to know Jesus.  The best way I’ve found to get to know Jesus is by reading the gospels, which are the first 4 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  You can start with just one, you can read them all start to finish, or you can read one over and over until it feels like an old friend (thanks to Dan Kopp for that great suggestion).  John is a great book to start with, as John goes into great detail about who Jesus is and why he came.  But if you love a good action movie, start with the book of Mark.  You won’t be disappointed.

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is that it is not an ordinary book.  The best way to read it is in humility, asking God Himself to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.  If we ask for understanding, He is faithful to answer our prayer.  Jesus tells us over and over again that those who ask will receive, and James 4:3 clarifies further regarding asking with right motives.  I can ask for a BMW, but I really don’t think I’ll receive one.  🙂

2) Circumstances

I’ve heard God speak through circumstances in my life over and over again, and I love to write about those times.  If hearing how God has spoken to me helps you recognize His voice in your life, then I have done my job.  When I categorize a post under “miracles”, it’s probably a story of how God spoke through a particular circumstance.  This is one of my favorites, about how I knew I couldn’t giving up on having another child:  Fresh Eyes.

3) Music

I love to hear from God through music.  Sometimes it’s through the words of the song, like MercyMe’s Greater.  Other times it’s the music itself that makes my soul fly.  I fell in love with Switchfoot’s Fading West album after watching their documentary of the same name twice within 48 hours in late August.  I bought the album a few days later and couldn’t get enough of it.

Even though I didn’t see Swtichfoot in concert, DTE Energy Music Theater chose to play that album in between every set on Saturday night, September 13th.  All night long, in between Ellie Holcomb, Colton Dixon, MercyMe and Third Day, Switchfoot’s Fading West album played over the loudspeakers while the stage was being set for the next act.  As each song came on, my heart was being romanced by the God of the universe.  He chose the perfect background music for the mood He was creating between the two of us.  You can read more about that evening here:  Redeemed – Part 1.

4) Nature, 5) People & 6) the Holy Spirit

God speaks through nature, through people and through His Holy Spirit.  Instead of telling you about each one separately, here’s a little story that combines all three:

In May 2014, at the SMASH women’s retreat, we were given a morning devotional booklet to go off by ourselves to complete.  There was a question that I was supposed to talk to God about, but I also needed to eat breakfast, so I brought the booklet with me to the cafeteria.  I grabbed my breakfast, found a table and set down the booklet.  I went about my morning, chatting with lots of different women at breakfast, outside the cafeteria and on the long trail leading back to my cabin.  Walking through those gorgeous woods, with my cabin just ahead of me, I gasped and thought, “Lord, I forgot to talk to you!”  He quickly, but calmly, responded, “No, you didn’t.  You’ve been talking to Me all morning through all of those women.”

May 2014 SMASH Women's Retreat at SpringHill CampsMay 2014 SMASH Women’s Retreat at SpringHill Camp in Evart, MI, ready to go on the zip-line

Sometimes it takes “getting away from it all” to really hear His voice clearly.  Please join us at the SMASH Women’s Retreat at SpringHill Camp May 15-17, 2015.  Registration opens March 27th – click here: Events.  You won’t want to miss it!  And if you’re not female, Kensington puts on a retreat just for you each Fall.  Check the same link in Summer 2015 for the “Man Up” retreat, which is normally held at SpringHill Camp each October.