Reacting to the News (Colossians 1:3-14)

History Lesson

Before we continue in Colossians…we got a whole 2 verses done last week :-)…I wanted to share a quick history lesson.

As I wrote those words I could just imagine some of the boys in the front row looking less than enthused at the idea. πŸ™‚ You probably think you get tortured enough with history at school, eh?

Well, the good news is that there is no quiz afterward, it'll be pretty short, and it's going to be interesting because it is about us, not some dead king from centuries ago..who you'll have to memorize what the number after his name was.

"Was that George the III or George the IV?"

Although that kind of history can be quite interesting too if it is allowed to be.

Our Church's Founding

So, have you ever wondered why you are sitting here today?

And kids, I'm not talking about "Because my parents made me"…or adults, "Because I'd feel guilty if I played hooky to rest." πŸ™‚

Instead, why is there even an Antrim Church of Christ? This area has, and has had, plenty of church-going alternatives. Why are we here?

Now…I'm sure I'll get parts of this wrong…for which I'll immediately blame Winslow. πŸ™‚

No, I'll blame taking notes about it at an airport while being tired from a long week with too much travel…and from what is referred to as the telephone game, where every generation of sharing information messes it up a bit.

As I understand it…our humble little congregation started with the Crams and Deans meeting in each other's homes. Their faith was rewarded with others joining their gatherings, including Dick & Evelyn Davis and their kids.

Then someone had a bright idea…maybe they should get a preacher!

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Dear Least Important Church… (Colossians 1:1-2)

I Double Dog Dare You

I've previously mentioned a friend of mine who preaches down in northwest Arkansas. He is an expository preacher, whereas I am a topical one…and we've had some fun going back and forth about the benefits and detractions of both.

Well, this past week he said, "This year all I want is to hear you preach through a book of the bible πŸ™‚ pick a short one like 1 John or Ruth and see how it goes."

Daniel wanting expository preaching

And then, in a follow-up tweet he said, "I double-dog dare you ;-)"

Daniel 'double-dog' dares Alan

Now…being male…when you are double-dog dared, you have no choice…no matter how crazy or dangerous the challenge is you've got to do it! πŸ™‚

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How’s that Coulomb Force Working Out for You?

VISION

Well, we've made it to the last letter of my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ. First, a quick review of the first five letters:

  • V — Values — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
  • I — Integrity — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
  • S — Seriousness — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.
  • I — Intimacy — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy.
  • O — One — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will be one.

And Christmas Day is appropriate for the N, because N stands for nucleus and nucleus represents the One whose birth we are commemorating…and celebrating…today.

My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that Jesus will be our nucleus.

Atomic Theory

The problem with choosing a metaphor for anything is that there is always a point at which it falls apart. All the more true when the object of your metaphor is an infinite, perfect being. However, as long as we don't try to take it too far, saying Jesus is our nucleus is a great word picture. As I mentioned in my original VISION sermon:

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One Is the Loneliest Number

Two series

This is another sermon in two series…one series that is intentional…and one that, as I prepared for this talk, I realized I have been implicitly doing.

VISION

This is the second to last talk in the first series…my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ.

Today we'll be discussing the letter O…which follows:

  • V — Values — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
  • I — Integrity — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
  • S — Seriousness — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.
  • I — Intimacy — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy.

Does anyone remember what O stands for?

Although I kind of liked both ombrotrophic and omnium-gatherum…the best choice was a much better and simpler three-letter word…

One.

My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will be one.

Wisdom from Secular Songs

What about the second series…the implicit series…I mentioned? Can anyone guess what it is?

I realized…as a Three Dog Night song came to mind for this talk…that I've been doing sermons that discuss the wisdom of secular songs…whether they give good advice or bad.

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Too Big for Our Britches

Although having newer Nissans (under warranty) means Michelle and I generally take our cars to the dealer for service, I have a mechanic friend, Paul, who I trust completely when it comes to what should or shouldn't be done with our vehicles. If Paul were ever to suggest something that didn't make sense to me, I might ask him to explain, but I would do so as a student asking a teacher—and I would accept there are some areas where my existing knowledge comes up so short Paul might not be able to put it in lay enough terms for me. Of course, given enough time to grasp the foundations, I actually could understand anything Paul does.

If Paul were instead a theoretical physicist, it would be even more likely he'd have to tell me, "Hmmm…Alan…I don't think there is a way I can explain it so you can understand." And although scientists like Stephen Hawking have written some tremendous books to translate what is in their heads into words that we (the masses) can digest, the reality is that most of us get dumbfounded as soon as we see an equation with an unrecognizable symbol in it.

But again, given enough time to grasp the foundations, I could understand anything Hawking does.

In both cases, however, I am not egotistical enough to tell the real mechanic Paul, or the hypothetical theoretical physicist Paul, they are wrong on their subject matter unless I am sure I have competence in the topic we are discussing. I won't tell real Paul how he should fix a 1995 Subaru Outback, and I won't tell hypothetical Paul string theory is only good for hanging pixie-dust evolution fairies. [Read more…]

“After We Had Torn Ourselves Away From Them…”

VISION

Keeping to my promise of sharing one letter a month, we are now at the second "I" in my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ. Yes, I do realize that technically I've broken that promise, but I don't think you can blame me for the unseasonably-early pre-Halloween snow that cancelled church last week. Maybe God wanted this talk to wait until today, especially since He has taken most of the snow back while I was away near Dallas. πŸ™‚

In review of the previous letters in VISION:

  • V — Values — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
  • I — Integrity — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
  • S — Seriousness — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.

Do you remember what the second I was for?

That's right, intimacy.

  • I — Intimacy — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy.

What is intimacy?

But what exactly is intimacy? When I first started thinking of a title for this sermon, I thought of calling it, "You said what?!" (Instead it is "After We Had Torn Ourselves Away From Them…," a quote from Scripture.)

"You said wait?!" because if I were to walk up to any woman here at church other than my wife and tell her I would like to get intimate with her, I suspect the most appropriate response might be a slap across my face. πŸ™‚

And if I did the same with one of the guys…I can't say I'd blame them for punching me. πŸ™‚

But in my VISION I've specifically said I hope we will all have greater intimacy…which means I've literally told you all I hope to get intimate with you.

Please do not all rush up here to either slap or punch me! πŸ™‚

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Cherry Trees

A VISION for Our Church

Over a month ago I shared my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ, followed a week later by a sermon on the "V" in VISION…which stood for "value"…as in, "My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones."

I also promised that we'd go through the rest of the letters in VISION one per month…and this month it means we are on the letter I…as in, "My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity."

What is Integrity?

When you think of integrity, who comes to mind?

Somebody at work? Somebody from church? Somebody from history?

For me, it's George Washington. Not because I have any proof that our first president had more integrity than anyone else…but because of a story involving him and a cherry tree…one that didn't work out so well for the tree…but did show that young George Washington had integrity. Remember the punch-line?

"I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down the cherry tree."

I'm sure those aren't the exact words…but when confronted with a situation where telling the truth likely meant punishment, Washington's integrity…at least during childhood…meant he had to tell the truth.

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Somebody Misses You

This article was written for the next edition of the local Antrim, New Hampshire paper, The Limrik.

Although the pews have a habit of filling up just before church starts, summer activities definitely have meant it's less crowded during the Sunday services here at the Antrim Church of Christ. Luckily, e-mail, Facebook, and various other social media outlets mean that even though one family might be visiting Alaska, another member vacationing in Puerto Rico, and others camping in the great outdoors…the distance is only physical.

But, I think everyone who wouldn't be labeled "antisocial" agrees that nothing beats seeing somebody in person. We can try to enter the cyber-universe and escape reality, but reality is that whether God or evolution produced humans we are part of the physical cosmos, not just a bunch of zeros and ones instructing a CPU how to behave. Ask yourself, do you prefer an e-mail or a letter? A book you hold in your hands or one you read on the computer? Someone who posts "I'll pray for you" in your Google+ stream or a friend who sits down and petitions the Lord with you? [Read more…]

A Faith of Equal Standing

Clubs

Anyone here a member of a club or other special organization?

Maybe a service club like the Lions or the Kiwanis or the Rotary?

Or one where your age, plus yearly dues, gets you in…like the AARP?

Or perhaps because of a hobby or a cause or a passion…like the NRA or PETA?

Or maybe one that you are implicitly a member of because of an experience or accomplishment in your life…like an Olympic athlete…especially one that has received a gold medal? Or a veteran? A veteran with purple heart?

Harley Davidson

Sometimes just buying something makes you a member of a "club." The week before last I purchased a 2006 Harley Sportster Classic because having one vehicle was becoming problematic…and although he may not have specifically used the word club…John at RC Cycles in Hillsborough told me that I'd entered a new world.

Now, I told Michelle as part of becoming a Harley owner that meant I needed either to grow a beard, shave my head, or get a tattoo…which one did she want?

Sadly, instead of choosing one of those options she suggested a fourth one…selling the Sportster. πŸ™‚

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A VISION for Our Church

Chapel Hill

Last week at 6PM on Saturday, not long after I finished preparing for the sermon, a tweet came through from Chapel Hill in Douglasville, Georgia saying, "Our Worship Experience begins now! Join us online" (and giving regular and mobile web addresses to do so).

I was in the middle of something that would have me on the computer for a bit, so I figured, "Why not?"…clicked on the URL…adjusted windows so I could watch the service on the side…and got back to whatever had me chained to my Mac (while at the same time trying to keep an eye on a chat room filled with others who were watching the service too).

I can't remember a ton of the sermon…I was busy with something else…and the nature of the talk meant much of it was specific to the local congregation, but it was basically Pastor Dave Divine speaking of his vision for Chapel Hill—everything from a focus on people to tearing down a structure to make way for something else.

Pastor Dave Divine's Vision for his church.

Treading Water

And without a vision things can become pretty stagnate, can't they? When you don't have goals ahead of you you have no reason to even get out of bed…and you don't have anything to measure success…or failure…against.

Instead of swimming across a sea of potential you stay near the shore just treading water.

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“Because I said so.” “Really?!”

Mmm…good

Yesterday we had our monthly men’s breakfast and meeting…and…thanks to Rick…the food was especially yummy. One of the advantages to my low-carb diet is that it is an excuse to be carnivorous, and within his multiple options were breakfast sausage patties and an omelet-like concoction that included spicy italian sausage.

Have I ever mentioned that sausage is one of my favorite foods when I’m not maintaining my vegetarian vows? πŸ™‚

Breakfast wrapped up and Rick, Scott, Jim, Gerry, Warren, Winslow, and I got around to the “business of the church” and…near the end…Winslow asked if we should be having more sermons about fellowship and family…a theme we had decided to focus on this year.

This sermon is a yes. πŸ™‚

Top Ten Reasons to Attend Church

Having grown up with David Letterman (does anyone remember when he had a short-lived daytime show?)…a top ten list seems a viable approach for an approach…so today’s talk is:

“Top Ten Reasons to Attend Church”

You may have noted that’s not the title in the bulletin, but I think you’ll understand its connection shortly.

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