The Calvary Is Coming

Calvary Soldier

Westerns

Good or bad, my favorite movie genre is action-adventure, but I also really enjoy another one quite a bit…can you guess what it is?

Westerns.

Often westerns are also action-adventure…but even when they aren’t…there is something about heading back to that day-and-age…and those locations…that I really enjoy. John Wayne is one of my favorite actors…and although his career was far from limited to westerns, it’s hard for me to find a western he acted in that I don’t like.

Although less popular within society as time has progressed, many western plots of old could be summarized as “cowboys versus Indians.” In old westerns the good guys were generally the cowboys…and the bad guys were the Indians.

Reality is, of course, that the U.S.’ history with with Native Americans is unforgivable, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Indians were always the good guys and the cowboys always the bad guys. It is just good to remember, even today, that movies at best take liberties with history, and at worst…which often seems to be true with modern films…totally distort it.

However, let’s get back to the old-time westerns and imagine we are in a wagon train crossing the plains, heading for promises implicit in “Go West, young man.” We have circled the wagons and are under massive attack from Indians (you know, the bad guys in our movie script)…and it is pretty clear we are doomed.

We are soon to run out of bullets, and those who are against us are too numerous.

Who do we hope will appear over the horizon?

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Polls Won’t Matter When You Stand Before God

Scientist with scientific iconsI suppose you could consider its title trolling, but I clicked through on “Science Is a Good Substitute for God.”

The article’s final line (other than a disclosure from the author that he’s been an atheist since his teens) is:

It turns out that people who rely upon the efficacy of the human intellect to solve problems have a greater chance of living satisfying lives than those who cling to the supernatural hope that an unseen sky-God will somehow save them from their troubles.

This is based on polling described in Ronald Bailey’s post…and it may be true. However, if Christians are right, God exists, and there is an eternity beyond our earthly life then…

So what? [Read more…]

Tempted by Half a Billion Dollars

Powerball ticketDo you remember the 1993 movie, "Indecent Proposal," where Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson's characters (married in the film) are offered $1,000,000 by Robert Redford's character if she will just spend a single night with him? Or perhaps 2009's "The Box," where the couple played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden are offered an equal amount if they'll simply press a button? The catch with their opportunity is that when they push the button in the box someone will die (although it won't be a person they know).

Would you take either offer? I'm assuming most people would immediately reject the second one…but I suspect there are some out there…folks in especially dire financial straits…where the first proposition might result in more than just a quick passing thought. One doesn't have to actually be greedy for money to be a terrible temptation—sometimes just wanting to be able to pay your bills can cause you to make questionable decisions. There immense of wisdom in Agur's words in Proverbs: [Read more…]

5 Solas

5 Solas TattooNot sure what your feelings toward tattoos are, but…

  • Sola Scriptura — By Scripture Alone
  • Solus Christus — By Christ Alone
  • Sola Gratia — By Grace Alone
  • Sola Fide — By Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria — Glory to God Alone

If you click on the thumbnail, you will see a larger image…

(Credit for the tattoo goes to Alana from Main St. Tattoo and Body Piercing in Merced, California.)

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

The Result of Double Faith

Between a couple trips through all 66 (and Bible studying) I've read every word in Scripture more than once, yet I still run into stuff I don't ever remember seeing before. Sure, it could just be that I've got an awful memory, but instead it seems to me that God's written word is like a gold mine where no matter how much you dig the precious metal never runs out…even when you are digging in the same exact place. It is inexhaustible.

For instance, a day or so back I was reading how Ahaziah (bad king of Israel) wonders if his injuries are going to lead to his death and decides to go ask Ekron's god Baal-zebub via messengers. The only real God sends Elijah to intercept Ahaziah's intermediaries, and Elijah sends them back with a pretty negative message. Seeing them so soon the king was surprised, and asked them why they were back so quickly. They relate the communication and then:

[Ahaziah] said to them, "What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?" They answered him, "He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist." And he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite" (2 Kings 1:7-8, English Standard Version).

Now, perhaps you are far more observant than I am, but I never caught that Elijah wore clothing made of hair and a leather belt. Why does that matter? Fast forward to the New Testament and: [Read more…]

Religion

[This was written by my son, Michael, for an English class assignment during his senior year in high school.]

I want to make a deal with you, the reader, before you read any of this paper. I want you to agree to keep an open mind while reading this. Assume that I have a chance of being right, that we are on common ground, and that, control your gasp, there might be more than science, and that science might be wrong! If you are ready to agree to this, keep reading. If not, stop now and walk away; don't waste your time.

My primary goal is to persuade you to believe. It doesn't matter what you believe in; I want you to believe. My secondary goal is to persuade you to believe in Christianity.

I will attempt to do this without quoting the Bible. It is hard not to, and some might say I need to, but I will try not for those who chose not to accept the bible as evidence. [Read more…]

Sodom, but Not Isaac?

Abraham Sacrificing IsaacSo, as I was reading through today’s verses (reading through all 66 in 2012), it hit me. Back in Genesis 18:22-33, Abraham tries to get Sodom and Gomorrah off the hook, actually (respectfully) arguing a bit with God about it (although notice his concern for God’s reputation).

However, in Genesis 22:1-14 we hear God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac…and…queue the sound of crickets…

Abraham says nothing…he just goes and almost carries it out.

Now, yes…the Bible doesn’t record every word. The Holy Spirit inspires its writers on what to include and what to exclude.

And yes…it could be a sign of Abraham’s increased maturity…both in that he now trusted God so much he no longer questioned His acts or decrees…and that he know the Lord would take care of it (e.g. God could resurrect Isaac, see Hebrews 11:17-20).

But, seriously? All that concern about Sodom, and nary a peep about Isaac?

What do you think?

The Demons Shudder

The belief of demons

This sermon is going to be both normal and abnormal. Normal in that we'll return to looking up a good number of scriptures together—abnormal in that we'll spend quite a bit time talking about demons. As a whole I don't think it's good to focus on the Devil and his angels. They are plenty interesting…but that's the problem…they can be too interesting, and they can pull our eyes off the One we really should fix our gaze upon.

The One who, when compared to the entire evil host, is light a beach compared to a single grain of sand—and that's still exaggerating their significance.

[Read more…]

“For Those Who Will Believe”

Expository preaching

Last week I said that I was preaching my first…and perhaps last…expository sermon. As anyone who has listened to me know, I am more of a topical speaker…although one who attempts to make sure it is Scripture that is speaking about the subject, not me.

As fate would have it, however, this sermon will be expository too. Winslow asked me to preach on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13…and I need a bit more time before I do that…but I figured it would be good to instead discuss one of my favorite prayers in the Bible…as recorded in John chapter 17.

Now…that’s a fairly long prayer…so we won’t be dissecting it quite verse-by-verse…but I will be attempted to "expound" on some major points it contains.

So here is Alan’s expository sermon #2…although I am not longer convinced future ones are unlikely…some scriptures beg for special focus. 🙂

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The Night Before

Although I was in the Navy for a few years…I did not face combat…I never even handled a weapon.

Even so I can imagine a little how it must feel the night before a major battle. For instance, visualize being with the rest of your platoon the night before D-day. What would you be doing? What you would be talking about?

There is a saying that there are no atheists in a fox hole…so…

[Read more…]

A Christian Voter’s Guide

VoteThere are a good number of individuals who will find great discomfort in the title of this article. If you are a non-Christian…it may elicit fears of fundamentalists trying to elect their confederates so as to…in a nefarious conspiracy…change America into a Taliban-style Christian theocracy! Even if you are a believer, the title may be unsettling because throughout the ages the gospel has suffered at the hands of unholy amalgamations of religious and secular authority. A strong argument could be made that followers of The Way should be apolitical so as to avoid the leaven that ruins the whole loaf.

[Read more…]

Fear of Flying

With this sermon it'll be the third time out of four that I have chosen a subject that is too broad to cover in a 30 minute sermon…so I am going to ask Warren to lock the door and we'll spend the rest of the day together. ☺

Okay, okay…perhaps instead we'll reduce it to 20-30 minutes by narrowing the scope. By the time I finish, if I've done my job right, I will have answered the following questions:

  • What is faith?
  • What is saving faith?
  • What should we do with doubt?

Ready to dig in?

What is faith?

Long ago someone share an analogy about faith with me. One can believe that planes are able to fly—but clearly they do not have faith that they can fly until they are willing to climb on one and let it take off. If your fear of flying keeps you on the ground, do you really have faith in an airplane?

Not much of a definition…but something simple that has stayed with me. However, let's try to get a bit more formal…

[Read more…]