Everything Old Is New Again

Bible with candleOld Testament or New Testament

Let’s pretend that right now I said, “Instead of a sermon, we are going to read the Bible for an hour.”

Would you want to spend that hour reading the Old Testament or the New Testament? [Wait for answers. ]

Why? [Wait for answers.]

I think in a crowd of 100 Christians, 90+ would choose the New Testament…and that’s not necessarily bad.

The bridge to cross for the New Testament is shorter. Much of what it contains is less difficult to read. It is easier to understand. It begins with us hearing about Jesus, the most awesome topic.

However, the Old Testament/New Testament preference can also be because the Old Testament seems archaic in its teachings. If people do certain bad things, we are supposed to stone them. We know more about how the tabernacle and the temple were supposed to be built (and outfitted) than is meaningful to us under the New Covenant. It can seem like a totally different moral world.

What was important theologically back then isn’t the same as what is important in the church age.

Or is it?

Reading through the Bible this year has included Leviticus 19, and the topic for this sermon, “Everything Old Is New Again,” hit me after digesting verses 17 and 18:

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Those words are in a book that has all kinds of stuff that fit my Old Testament/New Testament contrast. Yet, right in the middle of it, we hear enjoinments that sound very New Testament-ish. Let’s review them…

You Shall Not Hate Your Brother in Your Heart Continue reading Everything Old Is New Again

There Can Be Only One

Highlander cover

In Search of Connor MacLeod

Who is Connor MacLeod?

No…he’s not a real person…but a movie character. Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.

Who is he?

He’s the fictional hero in the sci-fi film, “The Highlander.” Beyond having one of the most awesome movie soundtracks of all time thanks to Queen, it has an interesting plot. There are these otherwise immortal beings who, if they kill each other, gain the power of the ones they killed.

And that transfer of power after death is quite…well…electrifying and explosive.

In the end…and Michelle you know this…“There can be only one.”

Spiritual “There can be only ones”

Today, we are going talk about three spiritual “there can be only ones.” I could provide more, but I believe these are the three most important, and I know you prefer not to spend your entire day listening to me preach. 🙂

Continue reading There Can Be Only One

Arguments from Silence

Bible with candle and crossA couple days ago a friend of mine tweeted this:

I know there are many faithful men who have “multi-campus” video churches,I just don’t see Scripture that allows for pastor who’s not there.

My response was:

But it also doesn’t directly speak against it. I think, however, it goes against the scriptural motif.

Personally, I would argue that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak to anything that equals a modern day full-time, paid pastor…let alone one who has multiple campuses via video hook-up. I am not saying that the Word gives no guidance…for instance it does say people who preach full-time should get paid (see 1 Corinthians 9:12-14) and it’s pretty logical that a minister should meet the qualifications of an elder (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9). However, just because the Bible does not directly define the existing positions in Christendom does not mean they are wrong (or, for that matter, that they are right). We have to be very careful not to make “arguments from silence.” Continue reading Arguments from Silence

Episode 1 – The Right Foundation

Traditores Higher FrequencyIntroduction

Welcome to the very first edition of Traditores Higher Frequency…but before we chat a bit about the the program and me…

I’ve been listening to the Scorpions’ new album, “Return to Forever,” on my recent bicycle rides…and one of my favorite tunes off it is “We Built This House.” The chorus goes like this:

When the rain fell and the flood came
And the wind blew hard like a hammer on these walls
We didn’t crack or break or fall
We built this house on a rock, on a rock
This house on a rock, on a rock1

Now…it sounds a lot better when they perform it…and it’s not meant in a religious sense even though it is an allusion to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:24-27…but it helped convince me that this first episode of Traditores Higher Frequency should, after a brief introduction of myself and the program, build the right foundation…a firm foundation…for what will follow. Continue reading Episode 1 – The Right Foundation

What’s in a Miracle?

Jesus healing a blind manTo Christians who struggle with some of the miracles in the Bible in light of the supposed scientific (and experiential) evidence, do you believe in any miracles?

Even a single one the Bible records?

If you accept the most simple miracle that breaks a physical law…that is “supernatural”…then why do you feel a need to explain away (or reject) any other miracle in the Bible, no matter how incredible it is?

You’ve already said you accept that God can do something outside the “natural” restrictions of time and space. Being consistent, then you shouldn’t, without clear evidence to the contrary, assume there are limits to His supernatural powers.

It is really an “all or nothing” situation. You either accept every miracle the Bible mentions could (or, I would suggest, did) happen or don’t accept any of them.

If you don’t accept any of them, you aren’t a Christian.

If you accept a single biblical miracle, but don’t accept the possibility of one or more of the others, at best you are logically inconsistent and…depending on why you reject them…you may not be a Christian.

A God who can do the most simple miracle can do the most incredible miracle. Trust Scripture. Trust Him.

Yeah, Well, Consider the Source

Complimenting mom

Bad Compliments

What is the worst compliment you've ever gotten?

Does that seem like a strange question? Doesn't it seem like I should be asking, "What is the best compliment you've ever received?"

Well, before I did some quick research on compliments I didn't realize just how many categories of bad compliments there are. For instance, I knew of "damned by faint praise." An example of that would be at the end of this sermon I ask you how I did and all you say is, "I liked your tie." 🙂

Thanks mainly to a site called TV Tropes I learned there were many more types of negative compliments. For example, there is one similar to "damned by faint praise" called "overly narrow superlative." You may have kiddingly used this one yourself…for instance, if you said to your only aunt, "You are my favorite aunt!" TV Tropes' myriad examples included "This Buzzfeed article about UHF: 29 Reasons 'UHF' Is The Greatest Weird Al Movie About A Fake TV Station Ever."1

Just how many movies do you think fit in "Weird All movies about a fake TV station?" 🙂

Or perhaps you've heard of (or provided or received) a backhanded compliment? On Askville by Amazon, these were a few of my favorites:

Continue reading Yeah, Well, Consider the Source

One Man, One Vote…One Time

I remember Charles Krauthammer talking about how tyrants believe in "One man, one vote."

"One time."

Which, of course, is the time they get voted into office.

I think a similar thing happens in Christianity. Someone realizes that denomination(s) have gone outside the Bible for doctrine (or have misinterpreted it)…and (rightly) decides with like-minded people to learn what Scripture really says.

Then, of course, they document their conclusions, fully convinced that this time they’ve got it right, and anybody else who concludes something different is wrong.

I imagine God is sad every time…but not surprised. 🙁

What’s in a Preface?

BibleHave you ever been asked to do something where, instead of lamenting the burden you were just handed, you felt extremely honored to be chosen? If so, were you especially diligent in your efforts, being extra careful to do it right and to live up to the charge you were given?

If you haven't had that type of opportunity, what kind of request would cause you to feel that way? Being asked to be the best man or the maid of honor? The President personally ringing you up to help with an important initiative? Something else?

Perhaps for a Christian one of the most significant tasks we could ever enter into is translating Scripture. Unless you've had years and years of biblical Hebrew and Greek (I haven't), it is probably difficult to imagine, but just ponder what you would be involved with. These are the very words of God being converted from their original languages into your common tongue. Every decision you make directly affects whether your reader is being given an accurate rendering of what our Lord said, either directly or by inspiring prophets of old. When manuscripts disagree, did you choose the correct one? Is it better to translate word-for-word than thought-for-thought so as to avoid putting your own interpretation into the verses? Is it better to translate thought-for-though than word-for-word because the latter would be near impossible to read and would not make any sense to the average human? Continue reading What’s in a Preface?

5 Solas

5 Solas TattooNot sure what your feelings toward tattoos are, but…

  • Sola Scriptura — By Scripture Alone
  • Solus Christus — By Christ Alone
  • Sola Gratia — By Grace Alone
  • Sola Fide — By Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria — Glory to God Alone

If you click on the thumbnail, you will see a larger image…

(Credit for the tattoo goes to Alana from Main St. Tattoo and Body Piercing in Merced, California.)

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. :-)) Continue reading Why I Am a Heretic

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

Dear Least Important Church… (Colossians 1:1-2)

I Double Dog Dare You

I've previously mentioned a friend of mine who preaches down in northwest Arkansas. He is an expository preacher, whereas I am a topical one…and we've had some fun going back and forth about the benefits and detractions of both.

Well, this past week he said, "This year all I want is to hear you preach through a book of the bible 🙂 pick a short one like 1 John or Ruth and see how it goes."

Daniel wanting expository preaching

And then, in a follow-up tweet he said, "I double-dog dare you ;-)"

Daniel 'double-dog' dares Alan

Now…being male…when you are double-dog dared, you have no choice…no matter how crazy or dangerous the challenge is you've got to do it! 🙂

Continue reading Dear Least Important Church… (Colossians 1:1-2)

Sodom, but Not Isaac?

Abraham Sacrificing IsaacSo, as I was reading through today’s verses (reading through all 66 in 2012), it hit me. Back in Genesis 18:22-33, Abraham tries to get Sodom and Gomorrah off the hook, actually (respectfully) arguing a bit with God about it (although notice his concern for God’s reputation).

However, in Genesis 22:1-14 we hear God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac…and…queue the sound of crickets…

Abraham says nothing…he just goes and almost carries it out.

Now, yes…the Bible doesn’t record every word. The Holy Spirit inspires its writers on what to include and what to exclude.

And yes…it could be a sign of Abraham’s increased maturity…both in that he now trusted God so much he no longer questioned His acts or decrees…and that he know the Lord would take care of it (e.g. God could resurrect Isaac, see Hebrews 11:17-20).

But, seriously? All that concern about Sodom, and nary a peep about Isaac?

What do you think?

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:

Continue reading Yes, Virginia, There Is a Virgin Mary