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?

[Read more…]

The Reunion

Sunset with light and beamsDenver International Airport

Yesterday, Michelle, Augie, and I got up a bit early for a Saturday, headed over to Denver International Airport and picked up…

Who did we pick up Augie?

That’s right! His big brother Mikey…or “Michael” as he is more formally known to most others. 🙂

And although mom and dad were also excited for his return, clearly Augie couldn’t wait…telling lots of people all week that his big brother was coming home.

We look forward to reunions with the ones we love, don’t we?

And speaking of Denver International Airport…although it basically stopped the latter half of this year, many of you know that, historically, I have travelled a lot for work. One of the blessings in doing that is, while at the airports, seeing couples and families reunited. The same joy and happiness we three felt yesterday when Mikey came up the escalator and crossed over into our “un-secure” area in the airport is repeated millions of times a year all over the world.

We are blessed by reunions with the ones we love, aren’t we?

Now, I have to admit that if I drove out to the airport to watch something it might be the planes taking off and landing…but sometime, if you are in a funk and want to break out of it, you may want to drive 30-40 minutes to DIA and watch the holiday reunions. Joy and happiness are infectious. Even watching the anticipation itself is fun and spirit-lifting. People just can’t wait for that special someone to suddenly come in sight, because…

We look forward to reunions with the ones we love, don’t we?

We are blessed by reunions with the ones we love, aren’t we? [Read more…]

Augie’s Sermon on the Second Coming

Jesus in the clouds

Two of Two

This is the second in a pair of sermons…and as with last week…kids I want you to pay special attention…as they said in the military, “Eyes front!” 🙂

Do you remember the name of last week’s talk?

That’s right, “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross,” where we learned why Jesus had to die.

You didn’t forget all of that already did you? 🙂

Do you remember the rules for preaching for children?

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

Did we succeed with those last week? Mostly? 🙂

I’m not sure I would say it was short…but “Augie’s Sermon on the Cross” required a lot of introduction…and this one won’t.

So, shall we stay with those ground rules kids? Simple words and short?

Funny Words

So in today’s sermon we’ll talk about amillennialism, premillennialism, postmillenialism, futurism, preterism, historicism, and eschatology.

Sound good?

Now, those weren’t simple words, were they? Sounded kind of funny too, didn’t they. But, definitely not simple.

And what was rule #1?

Right, “Use simple words.”

But the reason I mention them is because they help show that talking about what people believe will happen at the end here on earth…

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I Am Ordinary


Ordinary.

I’ll never walk with God like Enoch.
I’ll never be as righteous as Noah.
I’ll never match the meekness of Moses.
I’ll never show the fearlessness of Daniel.
I’ll never develop a heart like David.
I’ll never attain the wisdom of Solomon.
I’ll never have a voice in the widnerness like John.
I’ll never turn back as whole-heartedly as Peter.
I’ll never teach theology like Paul.
I’ll never know love like John.

Until.

The cry of command.
The voice of an archangel.
The sound of the trumpet of God.

Then.

I’ll be quite extraordinary.

May the New Year Be the Last!!!!

Taking one last look at Facebook last night, I came across this New Year’s wish from a friend:Facebook post

May the new year be better than the last!!!!

And, dear reader, I do hope that is true for you and yours.

However, when I first digested those words they came through as:

May the new year be the last!!!!

Now, that might seem for like a New Year’s curse instead of New Year’s blessing, but I would suggest that the greatest blessing we can all hope for is Jesus’ return:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He 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 21:3-4, English Standard Version, emphasis mine).

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)

I will admit I’m a little apprehensive about the Second Coming. I mean personally apprehensive, not just worried about the billions who will no longer have the opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation. I trust my Lord…I just don’t trust myself.Sun breaking through clouds

How about you? Do these words make you exclaim, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”?: [Read more…]

Oops There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant

Alan Fahrner preaching

Clouds on a sunny day

I’ll admit I’ve been feeling guilty lately. It seems to me that most of my recent bulletin articles and sermons have been less-than-positive. For instance, after a recent talk a young man’s mother told me that it scared him.

And although she said afterward it was good to be scared…I suspect that the frightening present conditions in this world are leading me to focus on the negative…which isn’t optimal given that the gospel…and the God it speaks of…are so overwhelmingly positive.

That is, my messages have been clouds on a sunny day.

But not today…

But not today. Instead, I promise two things…

First, to have you leave feeling better than when you arrived. Well, I’ll do my darndest… 🙂

Second, to keep this sermon short.

Now, see? You are already feeling better than when you arrived, aren’t you? 🙂

You are not alone…

However, before we go positive. Am I alone in being worried about how things are going in our nation and in the world? Do you look around you…on the TV…on the Internet…and wonder if the inmates have taken over the asylum?

Or if Satan has gotten the upper hand and hell on earth has been spawned?

Do you feel like you are bustin’ a hump to live a godly life…only to see those who do exactly the opposite do far, far better than you?

Does it seem like all your efforts are in vain?

Does me bringing up all this bring your spirit down?

Then remember I promised to keep this sermon short! 🙂

[Read more…]

Lord, Why Have You Forsaken Us?

Hurt's The Crux (image from Amazon.com)

Questions

After last week's sermon I got two bits of implicit advice, one right after service, one late in the work week. First, get into the meat of the talk more quickly. Second, keep it shorter.

So, let's jump right in with some questions:

  • Did God create the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them?
  • Is God sovereign over all His creation?
  • Is God omnipresent—that is, everywhere?
  • Is God love?
  • Is God in control?
  • Is God omnipotent—that is, all powerful?
  • Does God hear prayer?
  • Does God answer prayer?

If you are a true Christian you are likely to answer yes to all those questions. As such, please try to answer one additional question in these words spoken during Hurt's song, "Adonai":

If God is here
And God is love
Was he there when I got touched?
While I was calling out his name?

The answer to his query, "Was God there?" is another simple yes. However, that's not really the question being asked, is it?

[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. 🙂

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…]

What Now?

Quick Review

Three sermons have led up to this final talk in my "What" series:

  • "What Went Wrong" — Where we learned that what originally went wrong up in heaven and was tragically repeated down here on earth by its original human inhabitants wasn't some arbitrary rule being broken. Instead, there was a breakdown of trust that has been repeated by Adam and Eve's progeny throughout the millennia.
  • "What Was Tried" — Where we took a dispensational view of God's dealings with man throughout history and learned that (a) anything that depends on man fails miserably; (b) our Lord doesn't give up on us rebellious earthlings; and (c) it's not about us, it's about God…
  • And last week's, "What Finally Worked" — Where we found how the successful treatment fit the disease…that the Father, to heal the breakdown of trust that has plagued the human race since our original parents listened to that cursed serpent…sent His son, who showed that truly God is worthy of trust. How do we know that? Because the Son manifested the Father (John 17:6), is "image of God" (2 Corinthians 4:4), and is the "exact imprint of his nature" (Hebrews 1:3). As Jesus assured Philip, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). When we look into the face of Jesus we see the glory of God…that what His enemies have said of Him are lies and what He has said about Himself is the truth. In Jesus we see a God…the God…that can be trusted.

How Soon is Soon?

Of course, so much more was done on the cross…finite words cannot adequately explain the infinite…but we enter this final sermon confident that when Jesus cried out, "It is finished" (John 19:30) He spoke accurately…and truthfully.

Yet I stand here and you sit there.

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There is a Pony in There Somewhere

When I listen to my entire iTunes library in shuffle mode I never know what might suddenly come over the speakers. Rock, classical, children's, christian, rap, bagpipe, country, polka, heavy metal…well, the list could go on. I even have some Ronald Reagan clips with which I did not set to "Skip when shuffling," and this week one labeled "Optimism" snuck in between songs. At the end of the selection he told a joke that brightened my day, and I hope will brighten yours: [Read more…]

When the Lights Go Down on the City

This week I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in downtown San Francisco. It’s not that I’ve never been to that city before—I’ve just never had an interest in walking its streets. So, my visits have always been limited to quick stops at its airport or meeting with the San Francisco Giants (a long-term client of the company I used to work for).

Why didn’t I have any desire to experience what San Francisco had to offer? With it’s convenient BART train system I could have easily spent many nights in it while visiting Concord, California (where that same company used to have an office)…and I had an employee who would do just that. He felt the tug of the "city by the bay," whereas I always wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible. [Read more…]

Do You Have the Time?

Preaching Styles

Who is your favorite preacher? No…I won’t take it personally if it’s not me! 🙂

But, who is your favorite preacher?

Now, why?

What appeals to you about his (or her) approach? Is it because you are big on theology, and they dig deep into the word, even leveraging their immense knowledge of Greek and Hebrew? Or because they are great storytellers—sucking you into their narrative and, as you exit back to reality, you are left with an unforgettable point?

Or maybe it’s their voice? Their execution?

[Read more…]