Do You Understand?

Empty tomb with crosses in the backgroundFiverr

Has anyone here heard of Fiverr? The description in the title on its web site’s main page is:

Fiverr: The Marketplace for Creative & Professional Services

And it is a great marketplace for various services. For instance it’s main menu lists Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation, Video & Animation, Music & Audio, Program & Tech, Advertising, Business, and Fun & Lifestyle. I have used it for logos and some video intros and outros…and have found it a relatively inexpensive place to get quality work.

However, it does have one problem that has caused my hairline to shrink a little…related to its providers being all over the globe.

Can you figure out what that is?

Not time zones…if anything that seems to work in my favor with work getting done while I am sleeping. Instead…

It is language.

I think I am being very clear about what I would like and the responses…very congenial and timely…often show English is not their first language…or second, for that matter. This past week it just meant more back-and-forth than should have been needed…but one time it was so bad I had to cancel the order. Sometimes…

They just don’t understand.

However, even when you and someone else both fluently speak the same language, can’t you get in the same situation? Where you think you’ve explained something very clearly, but…for whatever reason…even after restating it several different ways…sometimes..

They just don’t understand.

Sometimes it is just a lack of knowledge. I can try to explain quantum mechanics to a four year-old, but nobody would be surprised if the kid stares blankly at me and just burps. 🙂

However, and I don’t want to psychoanalyze this too much, I think occasionally the incapacity to comprehend is because of a mental block. It could be an inability to pay attention, an unwillingness to accept the truth, and so on…but it’s not that that they cannot understand…sometimes…

They will not understand.

[Read more…]

A Wedding and a Funeral

Crying brideAs many of you are probably aware, the reason Michelle, Augie, and I are here because of a planned marriage. It is institution that goes back to the very beginning of human time.

How do we know that? Because of an interesting conversation between our Lord and Savior and some first century religious leaders:

3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).

When two are wedded they are “one flesh”…and the ceremony is so joyous that many are often brought to tears of happiness.

Having said that, as we entered the last week before the scheduled nuptials, Michelle and I also got news about Jim—that the Lord is going to call him home potentially within the next few weeks. I got teary-eyed as I wrote those words in these sermon notes, and I am getting teary-eyed right now…as I suspect is true here of many others who love Jim and Gerry as much as Michelle and I do.

A wedding and a funeral…well, a funeral to soon be…

The promise of a new life together and the temporary separation…and let’s be sure to emphasize the word temporary…of two who shared those blessed vows so many years ago… [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…]

Fight the Good Fight

Triumph's Allied Forces (image from Amazon.com)

Canadian Bands

Those of you who made it to church last Sunday know that for my sermons this month I am using secular (that is, non-Christian) songs as fodder for sermons. This week we look to our neighbors up north, Canada, for inspiration.

How many here can name a Canadian band our musical artist?

Other than the group that led to this sermon, the ones that came to mind for me were Rush, April Wine, and William Shatner.

Now, I figure many or most of you have heard of Rush, if only because of their hit Tom Sawyer. As for April Wine, is anyone familiar with their song, "Just Between You and Me"? (Personally, I think "Gypsy Queen" is their best song.)

How about William Shatner? What do you think of his musical work?

[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. 🙂 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…]

Running on Empty

Last week I mentioned the sermon's title, "And Then There Were None," was unintentionally the same as a book by Agatha Christie. This week, I chose "Running on Empty" fully well knowing that there was a song and record by Jackson Browne with the same name. Now, that's not my favorite Jackson Browne song—if I had to choose one it would be the combo of "The Load Out" and "Stay" on the same record…although if I was going to choose my favorite song about touring, nothing beats the live version of "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.

Although I'm sure you all wish we could keep talking about 70's music, just like last week's talk didn't parallel the Christie novel, this one really has no connection to the Jackson Browne song. I just like the title. 🙂

And Then There Were None

Last week's sermon wrapped-up like a television show's season finale. It ended with Jesus "yielding up his spirit" (Matthew 27:50)…but that really wasn't the worst of it. Instead, before His end…

[Read more…]

And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie & Martin Niemöller

Little did I know when I chose the title, “And Then There Were None,” for this sermon that Agatha Christie actually wrote a book by that name. It is a mystery where ten unpunished murderers are invited to an island where, one-by-one, they are knocked off. I can’t really say it’s original title in a public setting, but it was “Ten Little” N-word after a nursery poem of the same name (the deaths in her plot paralleled those in the poem). It was also published and filmed under the title “Ten Little Indians.”

I do not know how it turns out since I haven’t read the book; whether anyone actually survives (and who the murderer is…or I suppose…who the murderers are)…but let me assure you that the novel does not parallel my sermon…not to mention that those of you sitting before me won’t suddenly meet some terrible doom, one-by-one. 🙂

[Read more…]

Symphony of Christ, 4th Movement: The Culmination

Recap

We are now through three of the Symphony of Christ’s four movements…

The Promise

In the first we saw the creation of the heavens and the earth; our original parents almost immediately blow it by losing trust in God; and our Lord…instead of giving us the destruction we deserved…giving a promise of a Messiah instead. Perhaps what stood out most in that movement was how, by demonstration, God confirmed His words in Exodus 34:6-7:

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation" (ESV).

The Anticipation

In the second movement we heard the repeated melody of a promised savior in the Old Testament…and by the time our Lord was due to arrive, expectation in Israel was high for a Messiah:

  • An earthly king who would rule the world or
  • A suffering servant who would bear our sins or
  • An apocalyptic judge who would come in the clouds from heaven

The Incarnation

The Promised One arrived in the third movement. We heard much of the Nativity Story, and discussed 10 reasons Jesus came:

  • To redeem us
  • To adopt us
  • To make us rich—but not in a "health and wealth" kind of way—true riches!
  • To destroy the Devil
  • To deliver us
  • To become our high priest
  • To provide a propitiation for our sins
  • To help us when we are tempted
  • To sympathize with our weaknesses…and (most of all)…
  • To manifest the Father…to show people what God is really like!

When the movement completed we were left staring into the eyes of the ultimate "sibling savior"…an infant who wasn’t born to provide bone marrow for her brother or sister. No, the treatment our disease required was so extreme our Sibling Savior was born to die…

[Read more…]