An Indian Big Mac

If you grew up in the 70's you probably remember hearing this jingle (perhaps even sang it yourself):

Two all beef patties,
Special sauce,
Lettuce, cheese,
Pickles, onions,
On a sesame seed bun

What was that an ad for? Do you remember? Or did the title of this article give it away? 🙂

The McDonald's Big Mac has been popular since the restaurant chain first introduced it, and I suspect that little ditty helped propel it's early success (although I am no fast food historian).

However, go to a McDonald's in India (as I did last December) and you will have to change the first line… It is "two all chicken patties." Apart from that, it's the same double-decker sandwich (except that I suspect the "special sauce" varies a bit too).

Do you know why the Big Mac and every other meat burger (other than fish) are almost always chicken and not beef? Because cows are considered sacred by Hindus and 80% of India is Hindu. Thou shalt not eat what you worship, if you know what I mean. [Read more…]

Prayin’ Like a Pagan (Part 2)

Quick Review

Before we jump into "Prayin' Like a Pagan (Part 2)" (otherwise known as "Winslow's Sermon on the Lord's Prayer (Part 2)"), let's quickly review the highlights of part 1. Although we are reviewing eleven verses (Matthew 6:5-15), we only made it through three of them two weeks ago when I last preached. I suppose at that rate I should do another three weeks :-)…but we'll go ahead and try to wrap it up today.

Other than everyone learning that if you compliment me there is a ka-ching in heaven as money is removed from my celestial bank account (just kidding!), the easiest way to summarize what we learned in verses 5 through 7 is by listing the people we should not pray like.

Verses 5 and 6 taught us not to pray like hypocrites whose words were selfish and for show. There is no heavenly reward for that kind of supplication.

An by looking at 10 different translations of verse 7, we generated a much longer list of people we should not mimic in prayer:

  • Don't pray like Gentiles
  • Don't pray like pagans
  • Don't pray like heathen
  • Don't pray like idolaters
  • Don't pray like people of other religious
  • Don't pray like ungodly people
  • Don't pray like people who don't know God

And…turning "don'ts" around to a "do"…

Ultimately we are to pray like people who know God.

[Read more…]

Prayin’ Like a Pagan (Part 1)

A.K.A. Winslow’s Sermon on Prayer (Part 1)

I have asked folks to let me know if there is anything they’d like me to preach on, and a few weeks back Winslow delivered by requesting a sermon on the Lord’s Prayer. I postponed doing it because it’s far less simple than it sounds…and although I still feel like I am not going to do the Prayer justice, here is my first attempt at that important task. I say "first attempt" because, as uncomplicated as the Lord’s Prayer seems on the surface, it actually provides plenty of material to do many sermons.

So, if I fail miserably on this one I know I’ll have ample opportunity to do another. 🙂

Dive Right In

Let’s dive right in by reading the entire section we’ll be going over today and two weeks from now (Rick is preaching next week since I’ll be in California). The only thing I’ll add before that is a reminder this is part of the magnificent Sermon on the Mount. It is fitting that within all the other golden words of advice directly from Jesus lips He would include guidance on praying. Without further ado, let’s look at Matthew 6:5-15:

[Read more…]

Halloween Crèche?

On a street quite familiar to those of us in Antrim who have needed medical or dental attention, there is a large outdoor crèche that helps bring a little Christ into Christmas during the holiday season–as it reminds us the Son of God, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23, ESV), “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). I cannot explain why, but I’ve always been partial to nativity sets—there is a peace and calm they project—the carol “Silent Night” comes to mind. And, as I ponder it more I think of another Christmas favorite, “Away in a Manger,” where we learn that “the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head” in a feeding trough because He had “no crib for His bed.” Perhaps the joy and warmth I experience listening to that piece is the same as was felt by “the stars in the bright sky” who “looked down where He lay” and saw “the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.” What a glorious sight!

[Read more…]

Trick or Treat?

Glowing Jack-O'-LanternShould Christians celebrate Halloween? Travis Allen, Internet Ministry Manager for Grace to You, has an informative and thoughtful answer to that question in his article, “Christians and Halloween.” Although his punch line is that “ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God,” the article also shares some fairly surprising origins for some of our Halloween traditions (for instance, did you know that “bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world’s ‘blessings’ on a couple’s romance”?)

Personally, I tend to agree with Travis’ advice on the holiday, both in the “punch line” I shared above (see Romans 14:5, 23) and this:

There’s another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There’s nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children–provided you’re not stingy–can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.

What do you think…”trick or treat” or “avoid like the plague”?

P.S. In case you are interested, my sermon this past Sunday, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” was about how Christians should view ghosts…