Meet My Friend Stephen

The other day, I was blessed with an amazing gift. I was given tickets to a concert. Now, not everyone knows this about me, and it may shock some of you. I absolutely love going to rock concerts, especially the ones where I can relax and be myself, the ones where no one cares how you dance or jump or move, just so long as you are having a great time and enjoying yourself. Sometimes, I just like to stand wide-eyed, head bobbing back and forth, totally taking in the experience. Then there are the times that my body is all in; I’m jumping, hands in the air, head banging. Most of the time, I share these moments with my daughter who is not afraid to rock out at all. Our favorite group to rock it out with is Family Force 5, but there are many others like Hawk Nelson, Switchfoot and Skillet, just to name a few.

Before I had Tori to go to these concerts with, it was Chrissy. She likes some concerts, but she’s really more of a listener not a see-er. Most of the groups we have seen are Christian bands, but we have been known to take in a Bon Jovi concert or a U2 concert once or twice. Some of the bands we have seen are mostly ones from our early years in the 80’s, like Degarmo and Key, Mylon Lefever and Broken Heart, The Choir, Rez Band and many more.

So back to the tickets we were blessed with. I decided to surprise Tori with them. Chrissy was going to be away for the weekend, and I wanted to do something special with Tori. So, I asked her if she would like to go on a date? Asking your 22 year old single daughter this question can be awkward, I guess. I  think she thought that I was trying to set her up on a blind date, because she said, “With who?”

Side Note: This was all thorough text messaging. Sometimes things can be misconstrued or not communicated well when texting. This was one of those times.

I said, “With me, who else?”

She replied, “Why are you being so weird?”

I texted, “I’m not. So, will you go with me?”

I almost felt like I was asking for a real date with someone. The struggle was real.

She said, “I guess??”

I replied, “Great! Be ready at 6pm on Friday! I promise it will be fun!

So, I picked up the tickets for the concert from the people who were giving me the tickets. This couple is older, I think it’s safe to say they are senior citizens, but they are amazingly youthful. I love these two people; they always have a positive thing to say and are positively optimistic. Their names are Joe and Peg Leatherman. I had to wonder and laugh a bit when Peg told me that she likes Colton Dixon quite a bit, and really wanted to go see him. The timing was just not going to work for her and Joe to go. She was glad I could use the tickets. She then told me that a friend said that they were shocked that she would want to go to a concert with Skillet. I had to admit to her that I was also a bit shocked that they would want to go!

So I the day came. Tori and I made it to the venue. When we got there, Tori was delightfully surprised at my idea of a date.

Side Note: I may have had it in my head that I wanted to show her what it was like to have a real date with someone who really cared about her.

The concert really was great! As I stood bobbing my head, my mind went back to our younger years and some of those awesome rock shows. Skillet’s stage show reminded me of the REZ Band. The lead singer, John Cooper, put me in mind of another person that never made it to what some would call the “Big Time.” As I watched John move around the stage, I could feel his passion and I couldn’t help but think of my old friend, Stephen Klopp. Steve always sang with everything he had, and it wasn’t for the people, but it was for an audience of one, and that one person was Jesus. When Steve talked between songs he would always bring it back around to who this world needed most, Jesus.

Stephen was in a few bands from when he was a teen, at least that I know of.  First, there was Exodus II, and then he was in another band called Big Ideas. When I first met Steve, I had entered into a lip sync contest for a local outreach ministry. The youth group Steve was in at his church had entered the contest also. After the contest, there was a concert with this local Christian band called Exodus II. Steve was the lead singer and electric guitar player for the group. Two things I remember about Steve was his passion for hard rock music and his intense love for Jesus. If I was asked what other traits this guy would be known for, I would have to say it would be his smile and his laugh. He has one of those contagious smiles that brings joy into the saddest of places.

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I got to know Steve though a youth group we both were a part of called SOS. I have talked about this is past posts. It was group of youth who wanted to make an impact for Jesus and was student led. SOS did all kinds of things, one thing being concerts. For a few years, my singing group opened for Exodus II.

After a while, life changed for everyone. Some went to college, others worked jobs; the bands and groups we were in in high school fell apart. Each one of that group went in their own direction.

Chrissy and I got married, then Steve met Ricki, and they got married. I lost contact over the year with a lot of those that were a part of that youth group. Somehow Chrissy and I were able to stay in touch with a few of the guys. One being Steve and Ricki, both of whom have always been an encouragement and someone to look to for support.

I’m not sure of the details, but the second band I mentioned above, Big Ideas.  Some of those who made up this band were those who were in the first band, including Stephen. They cut a demo and were great together. I’m not sure why, but for some reason they disbanded and went their separate ways. Perhaps, it was just that God had other plans for each of them.

I had a dream years ago to start a music festival that would reach thousands of people for Jesus. I also thought it would be the coolest thing to have those who encouraged me in my faith be a part of this event in some way. I thought it would be great to see some of my friends open for a big name band at a Christian music festival.

I’m fuzzy on how this all happened. I don’t know if if I was asked about it, or if I had the brain child myself, it really doesn’t matter. It just matters that it did happen. The year was 1996. It just so happens that I was, at the time, the founder/promoter of a Christian Music festival called Vision. We had just booked a guy by the name of Michael Row. Before he went solo he played in a few bands, one being the 77’s, and another called Lost Dogs. Both pretty big name bands, and Michael was a big name himself. Then it was a few weeks before the festival, and we had a band back out on us. So, guess who I was able to fill the spot with? None other than Big Ideas—a  reunion concert. It was a great night! They absolutely rocked that night. I wish I could get my hands on some of the photos for that night, but I’m not sure where all the scrapbooks got to.

Perhaps, this was not as big of a deal to others as it was to me, but I felt like God made this happen. Over the years of serving in ministry and life in general, I have these moments where I think back to that night about how God cared enough about some guys that He made them the Rock Stars that He knew they are. It has always brought me a bit of encouragement that God cares about our dreams and hopes. Sometimes, he gives us a little slice of them; it may not last long, but you can always say it happened.

My friend Stephen has been fighting a battle for a long time. His body is just not working, and it’s shutting down little by little. They say he doesn’t have long to be here with us, but as he has said and showed countless people before, we have an eternity to be together. That is because of the message that we have devoted our lives to. I unashamedly say that Jesus is my Lord and Savior and when this body that houses us wears out (and it will sooner or later for all of us) we have hope because of Jesus! You may not agree with me, and that’s okay, but I hope you will someday run into a Steve Klopp and see what it’s like to experience the love of God.

Please join me in praying for my friend, brother, fellow rocker and his family during this difficult time. Steve, Brother, you are amazing, and I have always looked up to you for being the man God asked you to be. Please know that you have made a huge impact on this world for Christ! And you are so very much loved! Rock on Bro here, there, or in the air!

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Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

April 5, 2015
Happy Resurrection Morning!
This past weekend I had the privilege to hold one of God’s greatest gifts, a newborn baby. As I looked down on this precious bundle of joy, I became overwhelmed with how much of a huge responsibility I have, no we have, in sharing the gospel message with all that we come into contact with, especially children.
When you think that God has given us the opportunity to share the story of how much He loves each and everyone of His children, it can be an enormous feeling of responsibility.
After thinking about that consider this, we are accountable to God for each child’s safety that we are entrusted with.
That can be scary.
These are just two reasons why we must have training sessions like the ones we offer or require. We are responsible for the well being of these children.
Here is a quick scripture just to show how serious Jesus took teaching children and caring for children.
Luke 17:1-2
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.
That’s pretty serious.
In light of what God wants His children to hear and understand, these consequences should be taken seriously. We not only are responsible for their safety and well being, we are also responsible for communicating to them the good news of the resurrection of Jesus. That friends, can make a difference for eternity!
Once you become a follower of Christ it’s our responsibility to do this whether it’s children or adults.  Jesus commanded us to do this Mathew 28:19-20

Thank you for doing all you can, to keep our children safe!

Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

 March 29, 2015
This week I had a great reminder of why I do Children’s Ministry.
I was going through the halls as our mid-week service “SPLASH” was finishing up. All but a few kids were still around with their leaders. Then I heard one of our leaders call out to me, “Pastor Butch! I have someone here who wants to tell you something.”
As I leaned over to look this little girl in the eyes, she said to me, “I want to be baptized.”
I was so excited for her. I said “that’s great!”
All though this is great, the best part was when I asked, “Why do you want to do that?”
She peered straight into my eyes and said, “Because I want to obey God and do all He wants me to”.
Wow! In that moment my heart did jumped and melted all at once.
Here we have a glimpse of why we do all that we do. These are the moments we hang on to, especially when you’re asking yourself, why am I doing this?
You may say Pastorb, I don’t have that opportunity, I work in the nursery. The kids I work with are not able to communicate these choices to us as well as they do when their older.
Here is what I say to you, when older kids make these choices and tell us, I want you to understand that you have had a part in their decision to follow Jesus. You have changed their diapers, wiped their tears, you are the ones who have loved on them and rocked them to sleep. You have had a big hand is showing the love of Jesus to them.
This all happens because of our faithfulness to do what God has asked us to do.
I want to say to all of you, Thank you for making a difference!
Whoever wants to save their life must lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:25 
“God did not call us to be successful, but to be faithful.”
Mother Teresa

Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

March 22, 2015
(He) Made Himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant. Philippians 2:7
This verse was part of my quiet time this week and as I took time to think about it, I wondered what is the nature of a servant? What does that look like?
Now a servant is not necessary a slave, in todays terms. But you can become a slave, when you let some thing or someone become your master. That is where knowing who you serve is so very important.
In scripture we see a very clear picture of what it looks like to be a servant. Jesus did this so eloquently through out his life, here on earth and when He was with the Father, before He made the divine decision to come to earth to be our Savior.
He gave us a life to strive for. His life was a beautiful painted picture of what a servant looked like. As we grow into being a disciple of Christ, we are faced with some challenges. Who would have thought putting others before yourself and loving one another would be such a difficult task?
If this is not a challenge for you perhaps you need to draw in closer to the life of Jesus.
Our children need to see Christ like servants and feel loved. We have no clue where they come from before they reach our doors or what they have experienced on the trip to church. We need to remember this; today the love you give, maybe the only love they get to experience.
Thank you for what you do!

 “Our Lord lived a life… to give the standard for our lives.”  Oswald Chambers

Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

 March 15, 2015
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
Have you ever wondered about this verse? I have what does it mean to have your paths made straight? The more I thought about this I started to think about all the choices I have had to make over the course of my life.
Some were great and some were well… unwise choices. Thinking about the unwise choices if I would have had more wisdom in my life, more guidance, perhaps I could have made the wise choice. Therefor my paths would have been made straight.
Looking at this verse, if I want to make wise choices I need to go to the one who holds everything, God.
This starts by acknowledging Him in everything. Sometimes what that means is yielding my will for His will. Stepping aside and letting God mold me into the person, He sees me becoming.
This is hard. Especially with all the things of the world asking for my attention and luring me away from living a life that honors Him.
Friends, this is what we’re teaching through the love we share with the kids, week in and week out. When we have the chance to display or communicate how to make choices that honor God, it will be second nature to us, if we have yielded our will to God on a daily basis. The kids will catch this. I heard it said more is caught than taught and that is true.

Hudson Taylor said this: “God always gives His very best to those who leave the choice with Him.”

Each week for my ministry, I write a short devotional thought that hopefully will encourage and inspire those who have made a choice to work with kids. We call the time when we share this VIP (Vision, Information, Prayer).

These devotions are a part of casting vision to our leaders. I want to do everything I can to help them remember that they are making a difference for the kingdom of God and spreading the love of Jesus effectively. All the while challenging them to stretch in their own walk with Christ.

March 8, 2015
“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark you don’t throw your ticket away and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” 
~Corrie ten Boom~
As I sat and chewed on this a bit I started to get it. Many times we do jump off the train. We don’t fully trust. We like to say we do or think we do, but if we’re honest, we don’t.
Perhaps we don’t throw our ticket away but we sure do run up and tell the engineer how to drive or do his job according to the way we want it to be done.
See when were in dark times or low times, this is when we need to rest. Resting in the fact that God (the Engineer) is in control and He wants us to come out on the other side stronger and ready to give testimony to His grace and love. 
So what’s this have to do with what I’m doing here with these kids? Think about the amazing things they will be able to do for God, if they learn to do this early in life. The kids are learning how to do this from you, today by you showing up, being present, and sharing God’s love. Because of you doing this our kids have a chance of learning this.

You are making a difference!