I Have Been Such a Jerk

Black and white cross with sunBirthdays and Twitter

Friday was my 53rd birthday…sounds really old, doesn’t it kids? πŸ™‚

However, Lord willing, it is a birthday everyone here…if they haven’t already…will experience. The number 53is special in one way…does anyone know what that is?

It’s a prime number! πŸ™‚

And I’ll have to wait six years until the next one. πŸ™‚

Although the number has being prime special about it, for me 53 is just another ordinary milestone in the life of an ordinary guy. But, birthdays can cause me to reflect, and I did a bit this year.

What do I really want to accomplish? What should I focus on? And so on.

However, reflecting on the past often is painful for me, because the way my brain works I am much more likely to remember negative things than positive. Not negative things about others…but about myself. Times when I was a moral moron. All it takes is recollecting a few of these and I can’t help but think…

I have been such a jerk.

No, I’m not going to provide examples here. πŸ™‚ [Read more…]

I Didn’t Do It!

Butter, dish, and knifeGood or Evil

What do you think? Are humans inherently good or evil?

How many here believe humans are inherently good?

How many here believe humans are inherently evil?

I suspect the best answer to the question, “Are humans inherently good or evil?” is…

Yes.

πŸ™‚

But, if there is one thing that I think argues for the latter…that we are inherently evil…at least in part…is our propensity to lie.

It seems to me that, even at an early age, when you are going to get into trouble for doing something, human nature automatically wants to say…

“I didn’t do it!”

Pretty much as soon as we can feel guilt and/or understand we might get in trouble, we want to (and to often do) lie. Say we didn’t do it. Blame someone else. Claim ignorance about it. Anything but just fess up and admit we are the guilty party. [Read more…]

Gotta Serve Somebody

Man having to choose between an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other

Digital World

We live in a digital world, don’t we?

What does that mean to you? What does it mean to live in a “digital world”?

Heading to my Mac’s trusty dictionary (as I often do), its first definition of digital is:

(of signals or data) expressed as series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization. Often contrasted with analog.

We are definitely in a computerized world…and computers, ultimately, do all their work in ones and zeros…but when I said, “We live in a digital world” I was really going with the idea that we live in an either/or world…an either this or that world. [Read more…]

You Are Not Alone

Matthew 11:28

Last Week Stopped Short of the Full Story

Last week, in my sermon “Like a Feather,” we discussed how Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.

How salvation itself is “easy.”

Just believe…have faith…in Jesus.

So simple it is hard to accept.

But true.

However, we had to stop there or my sermon would have gone on way too long. πŸ™‚

I also noted that doubt’s yoke is hard and burden is heavy. A such, stopping at the point of salvation doesn’t remove the yoke or lift the burden completely, does it?

Great, you were saved. Great, I was saved. Great, we were saved.

But you mess up…I mess up…we mess up so much. Avoiding sin seems anything but an easy yoke or light burden.

Have we lost our salvation?

Will we lose our salvation?

Were we every saved?

Doubt’s yoke is hard and burden is heavy.

[Read more…]

Light as a Feather

Ox pulling plowLight as a Feather

Overloaded

Do you feel overloaded by life?

  • That there is too much expected out of you by your boss?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your friends?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your family?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by your spouse or significant other?
  • That there is too much expected out of you by society?
  • That there is too much expected out of you at work?
  • That there is too much expected out of you at home?

My guess is that unless you are younger than a teenager it is very, very likely that you have said yes to one or all of those.

And I suspect that I could changed “expected” to “demanded” in all of those and you would still say yes to at least a couple of them.

Does your neck feel crushed and your shoulders feel very, very heavy with the burdens put on them?

At times mine do. Some of it is my own fault. Bills I shouldn’t have created. Tasks I shouldn’t have volunteered for.

However, even subtracting those and the fact my wife has fair expectations of me…sometimes I feel overloaded…like what I am yoked with is too heavy for me to handle. The burden can overwhelming.

But I have some really, really good news for you and me. πŸ™‚ [Read more…]

Augie’s Sermon on the Cross

Three crosses with a red sky

Choosing a Sermon Topic

Kids…as best as you can…this week I need you to pay attention. No, I won’t make you put everything away…but you’ll shortly understand why this week and next you shouldn’t tune me out. So…

Do I have your attention?!

I said…

Do I have your attention?! πŸ™‚

Early this week I asked Augie what I should do a sermon on. He responded that I should preach about Jesus on the cross and Jesus coming back.

What do you think? Were those good suggestions?

They were awesome suggestions!

However, to do both at once would break one of the rules of preaching for children, so this week it’s “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross” and next will be “Augie’s Sermon on the Second Coming.”

So far so good?

And the reason, [fill in the kid’s names here], I need you to pay attention is that although this sermon is titled “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross”…it’s not just for him…it’s for you too.

Do I still have your attention? πŸ™‚

Preaching to Children

Now, in order to preach to you, I figure there are some rules. Can you tell me if I have them right?

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

Did I get that right? Three simple rules and we’re good?! πŸ™‚

Let’s repeat the together:

  • Use simple words.
  • Keep it short.
  • See #1 and #2.

Related to those three rules, let me share a quick story about a famous physicist who was also a very fun guy, Richard Feynman. One time he promised to write a lesson about a really difficult topic for students who were starting their first year of college.

He failed at that and said, “You know, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we really don’t understand it.”

And to be honest kids, if we adults cannot explain something important about God simple enough that a child can understand…

Well, maybe not a toddler. πŸ™‚

If we adults cannot explain something important about God simple enough for you to understand, then…

Maybe we really don’t understand it. [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! πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ [Read more…]

But Who Do You Say that I Am?

Jesus in stained glass

What Is the Most Important Question You Have Ever Been Asked?

What is the most important question you have ever been asked? The one that had the greatest impact on your life? The one you are either very glad you answered a certain way, or have long regretted your response to?

If you are married, perhaps it was something like, “Do you take so-and-so as your lawfully wedded wife (or husband)?” Or maybe, if you are a married woman, it was a question that preceded the wedding…when your boyfriend got down on his knee and asked, “Will you marry me?”

Was it some other question? Perhaps when somebody asked you to do something unwise, immoral, or illegal and you said, “Yes”?

Something else?

The Most Important Question Ever

Today we are going to try to look at the most important question ever asked…one that everyone has to answer. One whose response decides the fate of the responder.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke capture the question, but we’ll focus on the first. Let’s turn to Matthew 16:13-15:

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Within those words we have some options for who Jesus was:

  • John the Baptist
  • Elijah
  • Jeremiah
  • One of the prophets

[Read more…]

Don’t Be a Sucker

Three crosses

Dear Least Important Church…

Before we jump into this week’s sermon I should probably give a quick review of the five that preceded it. Not the chronological quintet, but the previous pentad in the series it is a member of.

Today’s “Don’t Be a Sucker” is talk number six in “Dear Least Important Church…,” an expository look at Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The first five took us about half way through that book…and I highly recommend, if you haven’t already, that you listen to them (or at least review their sermon notes). I even more highly recommend you read Colossians entirely as we continue through it this year. Pretend you received it along with the original church. They didn’t, at least originally, go through it verse by verse…they likely excitedly read and heard it all at once!

Now, so as not to overly extend this intro (or the sermon itself) I’m only going to list the titles of the sermons plus their very final lines to give you a flavor. That will bring you up to where we jump back in today.

And, I should note, there has been about a 2 year interruption in my presenting the series…caused by a new job 3,000 miles away from the church I started preaching it in.

Ready to jump in? The five titles were:

  1. “Dear Least Important Church…”
  2. “Reacting to the News”
  3. “The Invisible Materializing”
  4. “Mystery Theater”
  5. “The Debt Collector Is Calling”

And, respectively, their final lines were:

  1. “Dear least important church, let’s talk about Jesus…”
  2. “Dear least important church, we pray continuously you keep your eyes upon Jesus…”
  3. “Dear least important church, Jesus is everything…and should be everything to you…”
  4. “Dear least important church, let me explain a mystery to you…”
  5. “Dear least important church, let’s talk about how we are going to take care of this debt of yours…”

In addition to those five, I did a “goodbye” talk for the Antrim Church of Christ that was not part of the series, but was connected. It was “Don’t Let an Earthquake Stop You” and ended with: “Dear least important church, I may be departing, but I leave you in far better hands…His hands…”

[Read more…]

Learning to Fly

A father helping his son learn to ride a bicycle

Training Wheels

For Augie’s birthday this past August we purchased a new bicycle for him. His old one was getting a bit small, and a bike is always a great gift in my book. After having no luck at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Augie found one at Target he likedβ€”I suspect the neon-like green on it was a factor. Into the bed of the truck it went…well, after we paid for it, of course. πŸ™‚

Now, I knew we were taking a chance. The bicycle was the right size, but Augie had not actually learned to ride one yet…and there were no training wheels on this model. My hope was that if I took him to the paved play area at the elementary school (right next to our apartment complex) he’d learn quickly (and with minimal spills).

Let’s just say that it soon became clear that my hope wasn’t going be fulfilled. It’s not Augie’s fault; I hadn’t taken him out enough previously on his old bicycle. We had to switch back to his smaller bike with training wheels.

I’m sharing this with you because when I was, unsuccessfully, trying to get Augie to ride his new bicycle I noticed several reasons he did not succeed:

  • First, he didn’t even sense a need to balance.
  • Second, he plain just didn’t have the coordination.
  • And third, he didn’t focus (for instance, he would look over at other kids playing when he should have been looking at where he was going).

Basically, as much as he liked riding the birthday bicycle he wasn’t ready to do it on his own, and he needed training wheels.

There is a sermon hidden in there somewhere…

Of course, a preacher doesn’t need even this much to have something to spawn a sermon from. πŸ™‚

I would suggest that Augie’s experience can be analogized to the spiritual…and let’s see how together…

[Read more…]

Passing the Point of No Return

Betrayal

How many here have experienced a devastating betrayal from a friend, a spouse, or a family member?

I suspect if you have spent more than a couple decades on this earth it has happened to you…and that by me causing you to think about it you immediately recalled a taste of the same pain you felt when it originally happened.

Betrayal from someone close is traumatizing. Not only can it permanently destroy your relationship with that person; it can impact your relationships with everyone else. To quote the title of a song by Ian Hunter (that I probably most know due to a version by Great White)…

Once bitten twice shy…

[Read more…]

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. πŸ™‚

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…]

“Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things…”

Wise Men on CamelsI continue to slowly read through the Bible in one year. Although there are some days it does seem like a burden (due to my humanity, not Scripture itself), being “forced” to spend time in God’s Word daily has been a great blessing.

I’ve never really been big on poetry (I abhorred it in high school English classes), so Psalms can be problematic for me. Luckily, as I’ve aged it is less taxing, and often I can actually enjoy it.

Reading Psalm 107 today was one of those cases…what an awesome song! It’s an tremendous reminder of how often God has bailed so many of us out of terrible situations, including one common to all mankind: [Read more…]

What Finally Worked

What Finally Worked

Quick Review

Before I begin the third talk in my four-part "What" Sunday-evening series, I figure it makes sense to quickly review the first two sermons…

#1 was "What Went Wrong"…where we learned that sin didn't start here on earth and that what originally went wrong up in heaven (and then went awry down here) wasn't a case of someone breaking an arbitrary rule.

Instead, it was a breakdown of trust between the creature and the creator. First Satan distrusted God, then one third of the angels, then Eve and Adam. Instead of becoming like God as they envisioned, they developed fear of God.

#2 was "What Was Tried"…where, using a dispensationalist outline, we saw that innocence didn't work, conscience didn't work, dominion didn't work, promise didn't work, and law didn't work. We learned that anything that depends on man fails miserably…and that our loving God never gave up on us rebellious earthlings…no matter how often or how badly we blew it. Praise God! πŸ™‚

Show Me Your Glory

Now it's time for "What Finally Worked"…but before I try to answer that question, I'd like to head back into the dispensation of the law…just as it is beginning. Let's turn to Exodus 33:12-23:

[Read more…]

Two Trees and a Tomb

Introductions

Before I begin my first sermon here at the Pleasant View Church of Christ, I figure it would be good to provide a quick introduction. I imagine most of you either have met me or are aware of me, but I am a recent transplant from New Hampshire…sent out ahead of my family, half of which will be joining me once my oldest son is off to college for his freshman year at UMASS Amherst.

I have a beautiful wife along with two daughters and two sons…ranging from the ages of 27 to 4. Yes, I got started early and had a surprise late. πŸ™‚ But what a wonderful surprise it was! (Children are always a gift from God.) Hopefully you'll get to meet them all, but initially you'll only get to hang out with my wife, Michelle and Augie, a bouncy blond curly-haired and blue-eyed human who finds joy in the most simple things…and bestows joy to everyone who encounters him…

[Read more…]