“The Great Question” About Our Faith

Andrew Klavan begins his “The Great Question” with…

Islamism is the great evil of our age, and the great question of our age is whether this foulness is the natural child of Islam itself or a cancer on its body.

Given the continual, regular atrocities done in the name of Islam (but that we are always told have nothing to do with the “religion of peace”)…

Islamic symbolThis seems an especially apropos query.

Are the terrorist acts of self-proclaimed Muslims an evil aberration or a natural extension of Islam and its holy book? Were the millions purged in Russia and China in the 20th century a natural child of communism? Is the corruption and complete breakdown of the economy in Venezuala (and resulting chaos) a natural result of socialism?

Was the Inquisition a natural extension of Christianity? How about other evil done in the name of Christ the last 2,000 years?

A very wise man said, “We become like the god we worship.”

And everybody worships a god, whether they realize it or not. I’ll unhesitatingly choose Jesus over Allah, Lenin (or Stalin), Mao, or Chavez (or his weaker replacement Maduro). There is no foulness in Christ nor in the pure faith He founded with His blood on the cross.

Can you say the same of ______? When its followers “become like the god [they] worship,” is the result more love and life or more corruption and carnage?

Another “question of our age” I suppose…

Orlando (Jesus Wept)

Jesus wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) seems especially apropos given the carnage in Orlando. Those two words remind us that the sinless Son of God deeply cares about the pain we feel. In context, Christ knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33, English Standard Version).

And…

Woman weepingJesus wept.

There are friends…brothers…sisters…mothers…fathers…children…

Weeping in Orlando.

Jesus weeps with them.

So should we.

Avoid politics. Avoid finger pointing. Avoid judging.

There is plenty of time in the future to do all that where appropriate.

For now, we should just have the heart of Christ…

And weep…

While looking forward to the day when God…

…will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

“Be Nice”

"Be nice. Jesus said so."Augie and I were out getting mom birthday cards and gifts…and at the Hallmark Store I couldn’t help but purchase what is pictured here.

Now, Michelle liked it so much that instead of it ending up in my office, it’s in her hutch. 🙂

But, how biblically correct is it?

Well, I suppose it all depends on how you define “nice.” Searching for “Jesus ‘be nice'” on Google, the top three hits were:

Two vote down and one votes up, but says it is not enough…

My Mac’s dictionary’s first definition of nice is: [Read more…]

When Kings (Should) Go Off to War

Genesis 3:5Greetings

It has been waaaaaaaay too long since Michelle, Augie, and I have been here at the Antrim Church of Christ…and as I typed up my sermon notes I knew I could confidently say how great it is to see you all. We may live 2,000 miles away for now, but you are still our family and always will be. How is it that Paul said it? “For though absent in body, I am present in spirit” (1 Corinthians 5:3, in part).

Of course, let’s just hope I never have to continue with the rest of that verse and say “and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.” 🙂

You will forever be a part of us, and if the Lord does not bring us back in Antrim again, we’ll make sure we put in for the same neighborhood in heaven. Well, we’ll do that even if God does return us here more permanently. 🙂

King David

Although I suspect I could spend a full sermon’s time talking about how much we miss you…that’s not what we are here for, is it? Instead it is to hear the Word of God from the Word of God…so let’s dive right in by turning to to 2 Samuel 11:1:

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.

That’s a curious verse, isn’t it?

Being spring…it is apropos to base a sermon on…but that’s not what is curious about it.

How many here think the “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…but David remained at Jerusalem” indicates David was doing something wrong? [Estimate count of hands.]

Well, then you ____ agree with John MacArthur:

Staying home in such situations was not David’s usual practice (5:2; 8:1—14; 10:17; but cf. 18:3; 21:17); this explicit remark implies criticism of David for remaining behind, as well as setting the stage for his devastating iniquity.1

Now, how many of you instead think the “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle…but David remained at Jerusalem” is just a statement of fact…nothing positive or negative meant? [Estimate count of hands.]

Well, then you ____ agree with the Faithlife Study Bble:

This is probably not intended to be a disparaging remark toward David; in 10:7, he takes the same course of action (see also 3:22). The death of such a powerful figure in battle would likely spell defeat for the nation; David stays behind for his safety and the welfare of his kingdom (see 18:1—4; 21:15—17, especially 18:15 and note).2

Although I am an “assume the best” kind of guy, I have to admit I’m with MacArthur. Especially since what follows is one of David’s greatest failures…it really seems to be saying…

“In spring, when David should have been out valiantly leading his army, he instead was dilly-dallying back in Jerusalem.”

Let’s go back where we left off and read four more verses:

2 It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. 3 And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. 5 And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant” (2 Samuel 11:2—5).

So here we have king who God said was “a man after [His] heart” (see Acts 13:22, 1 Samuel 13:14) take another man’s wife and commit adultery.

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there…because Bathsheba got pregnant and her husband couldn’t be tricked into having sex with her (out of solidarity with those in the field of battle)…David had him killed in a cowardly, secretive way.

How does a man after God’s heart fall into such deep, dark sin?

The same way we humans have from the beginning. [Read more…]

“Is It Okay to Be Mean to a Bad Person”

Angry manA month or so ago my little guy, Augie, asked me, “Is it okay to be mean to a bad person?”

How would you answer that? Not just “yes” or “no”…but what would be your reasoning for your response?

I cannot remember exactly what I told him (my memory is not that good), but it was no. I wouldn’t be surprised if I connected my response to the Sermon on the Mount, which, for instance, says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, English Standard Version).

As much as we might get satisfaction out of an evil-doer suffering, it is impossible to read Jesus’ words above and think that “it is okay to be mean to a bad person.” Jesus Himself is our perfect example. Whether “What would Jesus do?” or “What did Jesus do?” — our Lord never returned kind for kind…even when He was suffering most:

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus was the epitome of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, Augie, it is not okay to be mean to a bad person.

But a kid without a mean bone in his body probably already knew that. 🙂

Now that You Have Blown It

New Year’s Resolutions

Epic fail signWe are 10 days into the new year…and here is hoping that it has started off great for everyone sitting here in front of me. I know the Lord continues to bless my family and me in 2016.

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? [Wait for hands to raise.] Anyone willing to share one or two things they’ve resolved for 2016? [Wait for answers.]

Are you interested in what other people resolve? I was…and for my tween/teen class last week we went straight to the Internet to find out. Now, I realize that I have to be cautious with that and I pay heed to something a famous president said said that I found on the web. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as advising…

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” 🙂

However, I think Nielsen is pretty safe, and their list of top resolutions for 2015 were:1

Stay fit and healthy 37%
Lose weight 32%
Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
Spend less, save more 25%
Spend more time with family and friends 19%
Get organized 18%
Will not make any resolutions 16%
Learn something new/new hobby 14%
Travel more 14%
Read more 12%

Ignoring the sad commentary on society that not a single one of the top ten resolutions (based on Nielsen’s survey between December 29, 2014 and January 2, 2015) were spiritual…are most of them are at least okay?

If you made any resolutions in 2016…were they included in Nielsen’s list? I had a four that showed up in one form or another…lose weight, be better with money, read more, and get my technical and general ham radio licenses (which would fall under “learn something new/new hobby”).

[Read more…]

Episode 8 – Heaping Burning Coals (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome

Burning coals

Welcome to the eighth installment of Traditores Higher Frequency. This week we have the third of three episodes related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 21 wounded in early December of 2015.

When such a horrible act is committed, how should we react toward the perpetrators?

Before we continue with that however, I wanted to wish you and yours a Happy New Year. This is being recorded on New Year’s Day, 2016 for broadcast starting tomorrow, January 2. Here is hoping that 2016 is your best year ever…and that if you do not know the Lord Jesus that you’ll find him before the year ends…or you are called into eternity…whichever is first.

Also, I have a personal request. We are trying to be good stewards of time and money…so if you have listened to Traditores Higher Frequency…please contact us and let us know. We aren’t looking for funds, just feedback…and we would be blessed starting off 2016 with a note from you. To do so, please visit thf.fyi on the web and look for the “Contact Us” menu item at the top right…or e-mail me directly at alan@thf.fyi.

Now…back to the question that has driven the last two…and is driving this…broadcast.

When a horrible act like the terrorist attack in San Bernardino is committed, how should we react to the perpetrators?

In the previous installments we looked at Scripture that wished pretty harsh things on enemies…along with other verses that, for instance, told us to love our enemies. This week we try to bring it all together, harmonize those differences, and leave with something we can apply to our lives. May God will that you never have to go through what those on 9/11, 2001 or 12/2, 2015 had to…but you, most assuredly…will be wronged. My prayer is that when this episode wraps up you’ll know how the Lord wants you to treat those who sin against you.

Without further ado, let’s return to the Antrim Church of Christ in Antrim, New Hampshire

Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11 (Part 3) [Read more…]

Episode 7 – Heaping Burning Coals (Part 2 of 3)

Welcome

Burning coals

Welcome to the seventh episode of Traditores Higher Frequency. This week we have the second of three broadcasts related to the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 21 wounded on December 2nd.

When such a horrible act is committed, how should we react toward the perpetrators?

To answer that question, I am, in three parts, playing a sermon I preached on the 10 anniversary of the 9/11 attacks called, “Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11.” In the first portion I discussed how terrible the carnage was when radical Islamists used four airplanes as weapons, talked about our natural reaction to those who hurt us, and then shared some Bible verses that indicated it is okay to wish ill on evil-doers.

I’ll rewind a tiny bit as we head back to the Antrim Church of Christ in Antrim, New Hampshire for the second part of my talk on September 11, 2011…

Heaping Burning Coals on 9/11 (Part 2) [Read more…]

Episode 5 – Saved by a Razor

Welcome

Straight razorWelcome to the fifth episode of Traditores Higher Frequency. I wrote the notes for this installment as a passenger in a Nissan Versa headed to Colorado Springs…to pick up a puppy…maybe two! 🙂 Oh, and with SiriusXM’s Holiday Traditions on the radio. Yes, I am one of those guys! I proudly listen to Christmas music too early…even have my own year-round Internet Christmas radio station. You can check it out at Radio.Countdown2.Christmas. Other than some tracks folks have sent me to add to Countdown2.Christmas Radio’s playlist, it’s all from my personal collection.

But debating whether it is too early to listen to Christmas music the first week of November is not why we are here. Instead…and we’ve touched on this in at least one previous broadcast…I want to quickly answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

Well, I want Scripture to answer that question. 🙂 [Read more…]

Video of the Week

Snapshot of David Britt videoThis Video of this Week, “Hand of Jesus” is a brand new track…as in “released yesterday” from David Britt. I am hoping this means in 2016 David will be releasing a Christian CD of EP. 🙂

This song reminds me of a sermon I gave a while back called “The Hand of God.” Punch line is that the hand of Jesus is the hand of God (the Father is no different than the Son in His love and compassion for us). To (sort of) paraphrase David, “Take the hand of Jesus and be saved…”

[youtube=https://youtu.be/sGYwwxUN1e4&rel=0&w=512]

Episode 4 – Do You Really Believe?

David Britt's "Do You Really Believe"Welcome

Welcome to episode number four of Traditores Higher Frequency! This week we build off our interview with accomplished country musician David Britt last week, where we learned a bit about him, his music, and his faith. During that interview we touched on what might be my favorite song by him, “Do You Really Believe”…and today we are going to consider what it means to really believe in Jesus.

The song has a very creedal chorus. What do I mean by creedal? Creeds are statements of belief. For instance, you may have heard the Apostles’ Creed. It’s starts with:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell1

Do you see what I mean by creedal? Now compare those snippets to what David sings in the chorus of “Do You Really Believe”:

Do you really believe
That Jesus Christ is the Lord
Do you really believe
That He died on the cross
Do you really believe
That there’s a heaven and a hell
Do you really believe
Look in the mirror, ask yourself2

And, the longer chorus at the end of the song further adds:

Do you really believe
Those nails were driven through His hands
Do you really believe
Those thorns were wrapped around His head
Do you really believe3
He gave His life for all of us

[Read more…]

Episode 3 – Interview with David Britt

Video snapshot of David Britt interviewWelcome

Welcome to the third episode of Traditores Higher Frequency. This week you get to meet a very talented country musician and brother in Christ, David Britt. David and I connected on Skype and chatted about him, his music, and his faith.

What you are about to hear is a shortened version of that dynamic interview…so please be sure to visit our website…thf.fyi…to hear…and to watch…the entire interview.

Without further ado, here’s our conversation with David… [Read more…]

Episode 2 – Who Is Your “Midnight Man?”

Shayne LeightonWelcome

Welcome to the second episode of Traditores Higher Frequency. Here is hoping the previous week has gone well for you…

And that you are ready to dive into Scripture to take a look at this week’s topic, temptation.

But, before we do that I’d like to introduce you to someone you’ll hear now-and-then on these broadcasts. Sitting beside me is…

[ Let Augie introduce himself and banter a bit. ]

[ Ask Augie if he has ever been tempted to do something wrong…what he should do if he is tempted…etcetera. ]

Sin Is Crouching at Your Door

It’s not just young boys who are beset with temptations. For instance, the inspiration for this episode is a song by Shayne Leighton called “Midnight Man.” Its lyrics are about a woman who repeatedly has intimate relations with a male friend. One who coaxes her into falling for sexual temptation by assuring her, “It’s okay, it’ll be alright. It’s not forever, it’s only tonight.” She then repeats that mantra to herself…that it is “not forever, it’s just one night, just one night.”

Of course, “you’ll get yours, I’ll get mine” (also from the song) happens more than just one night. It’s not safe to open the door to sin even a single time. The Book of James has some strong advice about this. Let’s turn to James 1:14-15 and read it together:

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Now, Shayne Leighton’s musical character was “lured and enticed by [her] own desire” and was looking for an excuse to go ahead and hop into bed with her smooth tongued friend. Her desire conceived and gave birth to sin…a sin that clearly grew…and…without God’s intervention…fully grown would bring death.

The Bible starts of with two perfect examples of how temptation grows into sin. The first is the one that got us into this mess to begin with, where Eve’s “Midnight Man” was a serpent and the temptation wasn’t sex, but a forbidden apple. [Read more…]

Episode 1 – The Right Foundation

Traditores Higher FrequencyIntroduction

Welcome to the very first edition of Traditores Higher Frequency…but before we chat a bit about the the program and me…

I’ve been listening to the Scorpions’ new album, “Return to Forever,” on my recent bicycle rides…and one of my favorite tunes off it is “We Built This House.” The chorus goes like this:

When the rain fell and the flood came
And the wind blew hard like a hammer on these walls
We didn’t crack or break or fall
We built this house on a rock, on a rock
This house on a rock, on a rock1

Now…it sounds a lot better when they perform it…and it’s not meant in a religious sense even though it is an allusion to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27…but it helped convince me that this first episode of Traditores Higher Frequency should, after a brief introduction of myself and the program, build the right foundation…a firm foundation…for what will follow. [Read more…]

The Gospel According to Colt Ford

Colt Ford Workin' On Cover

Introduction

During this second opportunity…I should say blessing…the Lord has given me to stand in this pulpit, I am going to do something I am famous…or infamous :-)…for doing at the church in Antrim, New Hampshire I pastored.

I am going to preach a sermon based on a popular song. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still a “Bible and Bible only” guy, but one of the advantages to being a topical preacher (versus expository) is there is more opportunity to choose “jumping off points.” Being a music addict, that means today you get to put up with the intersection of that love and the Lord’s Word.

I promise it won’t be too painful…every parishioner survived all my previous music-related sermons. 🙂

Who Is Colt Ford?

Anybody here ever heard of Colt Ford?

Well, I hadn’t until a couple months back when a tremendously talented country-musician friend of mine, David Britt, tweeted an image of a Colt Ford album he had just purchased. David’s tweets never steer me wrong music-wise…so I logged into Spotify and checked out Colt Ford’s work. I’d describe him as a country-rock-rapper. That is I would describe him as an incredibly gifted country-rock-rapper.

[Read more…]