The Gospel for Hair Bands

I'm not entirely sure, but the first time I heard Europe's "Wish I Could Believe" was while listening to the Internet radio station XERS earlier this year. Having an ear for songs that speak to spiritual topics, this portion of the chorus caught my attention:

Cause I, wish I could believe in God
So I can move ahead
I know I can't believe in God
Time to move ahead

Now, I can't say that the rest of the song "fits" the transcendent searching of that refrain, but I think we can all appreciate the longing contained in "I wish I could believe in God."

And we Christians naturally wonder what is preventing the lyricist from believing in our Lord…and what exactly makes him so confident he can't? [Read more…]

Inclusivism (More Than “General Revelation”)

[ This is a portion of a short critique I had to provide as part of coursework for Liberty University. ]

Although inclusivism is mistaken in believing that (with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) general revelation is “enough,” it is correct in holding that specific knowledge of Christ’s work is not a requirement for salvation. Scripture shows the only prerequisite is faith, that some outside “the fold” keep the Law in their hearts, that God is actively looking at everyone’s hearts, and that He is never dependent on others to accomplish His will (and that He desires all be saved).

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Inclusivism (4 Reasons)

[ This is an edited version of a portion of an assignment I had for Liberty University. ]

There are four main reasons to believe there is a possibility that people may be saved outside of specifically confessing the name of Jesus:

  1. The requirement for salvation has always been faith.
  2. Scripture notes that some Gentiles have kept the law in their hearts.
  3. God searches each individual person’s heart.
  4. God is never dependent on others to accomplish his will.

[Read more…]

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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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Virgin Mary

Pregnancy Tests

I still fondly remember the night, about five years ago, when I went to brush my teeth for bed and Michelle said to me, "What would you say if I told you I thought I might be pregnant?"

I responded, "I'd say, ‘Why do you think that?'"

Without the forcing you to hear the rest of that story again, the punch line is that the awesome news was that she was, indeed, pregnant, and the following August Augie arrived.

The news of his pending arrival, however, was a surprise to both Michelle and me. Again…without forcing you to hear the story of why…we really had no reason to believe Michelle could get pregnant.

And we are definitely not the first…and won't be the last…parents-to-be to receive unexpected news of a nascent human whose arrival date is in less than nine months.

Perhaps a few men and women sitting before me have had a similar experience? 🙂

Positive pregnancy tests have led to myriad joyful and anxious surprises, haven't they?

Reason for Complete Astonishment

Which leads us to joining the Nativity Story at the point when the cast on stage is a young woman and an angel. Let's turn to Luke 1:26-33:

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Missing the Bus

Introduction

Today's sermon is going to be brief and a bit short on scriptural references. That's because I think the testimony it includes from a friend of mine is so powerful it's best to let it almost entirely stand on its own.

First, about my friend. I can't say he and I were close…but he was more than just an acquaintance. We worked together at CVS/Pharmacy in West Lebanon, New Hampshire…and if you have ever have had a similar experience…you'll know that you develop a type of bond with anyone you've regularly worked at 3:00 in the morning with…especially if you, he, and another person always shared an "on the edge of freezing" two liter Mountain Dew when you really should have been sleeping.

Don't worry…we used separate cups. 🙂

His name is Mike (as was the name of my other 3AM compadre)…and he was close enough to my wife and me to help Michelle out when I left two months ahead of her for a job in Atlanta with ProTix (working on the Olympics). Michelle was pregnant with Mikey…hard to believe such a grown man ever was just an embryo, eh?

Michelle was pregnant with Mikey…and we had two Siamese cats, Simon and Garfunkle. Pregnant women aren't supposed to get near kitty litter, so Mike came over to our apartment in West Lebanon and changed it as needed.

No, he wasn't a very close friend…but as I said…he was a good friend…as shown by that repeated act of kindness.

[Read more…]

Celestial Potluck

Terrestrial Potluck

Now…we were supposed to have a potluck at Gregg Lake today, but it we are delaying it because quite a few of us are spread all over the country…and beyond. For instance, Tracy, John, and their family are Alaska-way…Winslow is with his wife in Puerto Rico…and I'd have to leave the cook-out early because I have to catch a flight to San Francisco about 4PM this afternoon.

However, since I had already settled on preaching about potlucks…you are stuck with the subject. 🙂

Good news is that I also intended to keep it short so we could get to Gregg Lake early…

You keep the subject and the timing! 🙂

Favorite Potluck Food

When you think of potlucks, do you mentally lick your chops? I've been to some pretty good ones…and some not-so-good ones. For a while we attended a Chinese church in Sydney…

No, we don't speak a Chinese dialect…they always translated the sermon into whichever language the speaker didn't preach in…

But after every service that had an awesome potluck…something else you can confirm with my wife!

You would think they were Italian, however, in that they were like an Italian mother who is always trying to get you to eat more. Mikey wasn't old enough for him to be likely remember how great it was…but I bet you Michelle is mentally saying, "Mmmm" with me as I talk about this.

How about you? Have you experienced good and bad potlucks? What is your favorite potluck food?

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Who Knows?

"Whatever."

How many people have heard that word as a declaration of exasperation? Now, change the punctuation…

"Whatever!"

And the exasperation graduates to anger. Go one step further and put it in the mouth of a teenager…and a parent might best translate it as a two word obscene utterance (where the kid can get the same effect without the same punishment).

Often one or two words can communicate an amazing amount—and I'm not speaking of curse words. Ordinary words. Simple statements or questions.

One biblical case that especially intrigues me is "Who knows?"

The first time I remember noticing it was while preparing a sermon on what the questions in the book of Jonah tell us about God. In that case our reluctant (rebellious) prophet finally told the Ninevites what was in store for them. Then… [Read more…]

No, We Aren’t the Center of the Universe…

One of the advantages to working for Dartmouth College for a couple years was that I could attend one course free per quarter. I did not avail myself enough of that benefit, but I did take one class that reviewed motion picture portrayals of Native Americans. As you can probably imagine, much of the curriculum's focus was on negative depictions of America's indigenous population including "white savior" plot lines. If you are unfamiliar with the term "white savior," have you seen "Dances With Wolves"? Kevin Costner (as John Dunbar) is a white savior. How about "Avatar"? Sure, that movie isn't a western and the Na'vi aren't Native Americans, but Sam Worthington (as Jake Sully) is a white savior. Regardless of whether some of these films are positive in that they represent indigenous people as having more wisdom (or greater spirituality or better character) than the evil racist white man ("Dances With Wolves") or the nefarious greedy corporation ("Avatar"), a pale-skinned male of European descent ends up saving the day.

The reason this comes to mind is because today my son Mikey, his friend Chris, and I attended "The Green Lantern." If you aren't familiar with that comic book hero, one important tidbit is that the Lantern's ring chooses the wearer, not visa versa. After some initial "introduction to key characters" scenes, the three of us saw how the imminent death of another alien Green Lantern led to Ryan Reynolds (as ace pilot Hal Jordan) being selected for the honor…and responsibility…of bearing the ring. The soul-seeing piece of jewelry detected something in Jordan that even Jordan didn't know he had.
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Even Doofuses Need Jesus

After an article has formed in my mind, I try to think of a catchy title—something that will make the average person at least wonder what the piece is about (while at the same not being a bait-and-switch). As this one continues you will probably be able to guess what I intended to have in the place of "Doofuses" in the title, but it just wasn't meant to be. Although as an elementary school child I used the now-personally-banished term as a form of "jerk" (and a mild one at that), a little research on the web confirmed my fears about its origin. It was actually a bit more worrisome to find that another replacement I might have chosen also originally referred to the same body part. I'm not sure what is worse, the fact that people don't hesitate anymore to use curse words or that (even in the more "innocent" decade of the 70's) a goody-two-shoes grade schooler was unwittingly a potty-mouth.

Either way, one would have to be pretty insulated from all forms of media to not have heard of the Twitter behavior of a soon-to-be-former U.S. Representative, Anthony Weiner. What I did not expect to see in the aftermath of his reprehensible actions (both in the tweets and in the lies that followed) was someone as respectable as Dr. Albert Mohler being dragged into the conversation. Strangely enough, it too was a tweet that got some people a bit cranky with him. [Read more…]

The World According to Baljeet

Baljeet rocks outMount Cardigan in Orange, New Hampshire isn't terribly tall, peaking at 3,121 feet. Additionally, the main trail is a short hike of 1.3 miles. However, a good portion of it has a sharp inclination, especially as the trees thin and the granite becomes prolific. It was perhaps three quarters of the way up the mountain last Saturday that I realized something…but hold that thought.

Let's first let's talk a little about Baljeet's experience at rock (as in music) camp. Reacting to a Banshee-type screech they (and others) heard, Phineas and Ferb searched out the source and discovered it was their Indian friend Baljeet doing a "fail wail" because he feared he would flunk "Summer Rocks" (which he mistakenly signed-up for thinking it was a geography class). [Read more…]

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…]

Ockham’s Razor

Explanation #1

Starting off today’s sermon, I would like to explain how this tan metallic cabinet beside me got here.

About a month ago, the owner was transporting it in the back of his truck while driving to Keene and hit a frost heave on Route 31, causing it to bounce out of the back of his vehicle. Luckily, just prior to that happening a dump truck filled with sawdust had also gone a bit too fast over that large bump and dropped a pile of sawdust in the exact place where the metal cabinet landed.

So this cabinet, in perfect condition, was just sitting there when, of all things, a group of thieves with a van came upon it (heading toward town). The leader especially likes tan and anything he can stick his collection of Hawaiian magnets to, so he had his compadres throw it into the back. Strangely enough, the target for their criminal activity that day was our church, and they arrived in front a short time later.

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Half-Baked

Canaan, New Hampshire

I grew up in Canaan, NH…a town that was about the same size as Antrim when I lived there, but now appears to have about a thousand more people.  I still remember our address and phone number…PO Box 172 and 523-7763.  Not bad, eh?  ☺

Although Canaan also has a couple major roads running through it like Antrim does (Route 4 and Route 118)…growing up it seemed “sleepier” to me than this wonderful town.  Perhaps it’s just the difference in what we are aware of as an adult versus what we are as a child…but Canaan definitely seemed more like the middle of nowhere than Antrim does.

And although she was a registered nurse, my mom stayed at home to watch us boys in our house on Canaan Street Road (yes “Street Road”).  To earn extra cash she took up macramé–and became quite accomplished.  She even started an annual craftsman’s fair in town.  Since I was actually somewhat cute as a kid (I know, I know, very difficult to believe)–and just as extroverted–she often would leave me alone at the table because it increased sales. ☺

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No More Tears

Heaven

During times like these…

During times like these…when the loss of a couple saints is so fresh in our minds…it is good to slow down a bit…put this world behind us…and think beyond the limits of what we can see…even with the most powerful telescope.

So, let’s leave this earth and take a look at heaven. Considering (per John MacArthur in his book titled Heaven) “the Bible refers to heaven approximately 550 times” it would seem a pretty a valuable excursion to take, wouldn’t it?

[Read more…]