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Classic Christianity

In 1985 the Coca Cola Company introduced a reformulation of their flagship soft drink. It became unofficially known as “New Coke.” The reaction from the buying public was overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula was brought back three months later as “ Coca Cola Classic.” New Coke was renamed Coke 2 in 1990, and finally discontinued in 2002. Apparently what people really wanted was Classic Coke.

I recently returned from the Basic Conference held for pastors held every year at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. About 1500 pastors gather there from all over the United States and several foreign countries for the immense privilege of hearing Pastor Alistair Begg and one or two invited guests, usually from the British Isles. The content is Biblical and encouraging, and it is delivered in either a Scottish, English, or Irish brogue, which gives the speakers such an unfair advantage. They could read random passages from a cookbook, and we would all listen, enthralled.

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Stop Making Disciples!

When I was in college the King James Bible was pretty much the predominant translation used in most churches. Sometimes I miss the days when nearly everyone was reading from the same translation. We are wealthy in God’s Word today, with many good English translations of the Scriptures available. (There are some stinkers, too.) But in those days, it was King James Version.

The college I went to emphasized what is called “The Great Commission” given to us by Jesus after His resurrection and before He ascended into Heaven. It appears five times in the New Testament, in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and Acts 1. But the first time the Great Commission appears is in the Gospel of Matthew. In the King James Version it reads like this:

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Evidence for Easter

I love Easter. We’ve just come through what for pastors is the most wonderful and exhausting time of the year (along with Christmas). But I love it. I love sunrise services, shared breakfast, and the increased crowds on Easter Sunday. But most of all I love the Truth that Easter celebrates.

I don’t love the view of Easter that equates it with springtime, the yearly cycle of birth-death-and rebirth, and some vague sentiment of “what Easter means to us all.” I especially don’t love the claim that Jesus’ resurrection was a myth.

I’m with the Apostle Paul: if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, “we are of all people most to be pitted.” (1 Cor. 15:19) If I didn’t really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, I’d quit the ministry and go get an honest job.

There are what are called “minimal facts” about the death of Jesus and what happened next. That means that even disbelieving, skeptical scholars admit the following:

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Fred Markle

I think Fred Markle was the first person I ever met in Linton.

Back in the early 1980s I had an older friend named Jack Watt, who was also a guitar player. My family and I were living in Coal City at the time, and Jack and his family came to the church I pastored there. One day Jack said, “Dave, let’s drive down to Linton so you can see that music store.” I said “Sure!” And one afternoon not long after, we got into his custom van and he drove us to Linton.

When we got to Linton, he turned right on Main Street and drove out of town, back out into the country again. I was puzzled. After a mile or so, he turned right again and pulled int a gravel drive between two buildings: a rambling one- story house on the left and a large metal outbuilding on the right. Jack got out of the van. I said,” What are we stopping here for?” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “To go to the music store!” Then he turned the knob on a blank white door and stepped into the metal building. I got out of the van and followed him.

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Being in a Band

I have always loved being in a band.

Well, let me amend that: most of the time I have loved being in a band.

The idea has appealed to me ever since one fateful night in the fall of 1966. My father came in the room to change the channels on the television, saying “Hey Dave, there’s a new show on I think you might like. It’s supposed to be funny”. He switched it over to The Monkeys, and I was hooked. The show was funny, but for me it connected on a whole other level. It made me want to play guitar. And not just play guitar: it made me want to play guitar in a band.

There is much to be said for one person playing solo guitar, accompanying themselves as the sing. I like the singer-songwriter genre, and there are a handful of artists who play and sing solo that I have listened to over the years. I enjoy singing and playing myself, too.

But there’s only so much you can do with one voice, six strings and ten fingers.

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Reading the Bible

The first time I tried to read the Bible was when I was a boy, probably in the first or second grade. My parents had a big black leather Bible they kept on our coffee table. I knew this book was important to my parents and grandparents, and to the preacher at our church, so I became curious to know what it was inside. I opened the front cover and began turning pages, trying to read here and there. I had no idea who King James was (the old rascal), or what King James English should sound like. After a few fruitless minutes trying to understand something of what I could read, I closed the Bible and put it back in its place on the coffee table. My initial exposure to God’s Word left me feeling that the Bible was a mysterious and difficult book.

The Bible is a mysterious and difficult Book. But it is also meant to be read and understood, at least in its main message. The fact is, when the Bible is translated into their native languages, the Story of the Bible can be understood by people all over the world.

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Glory in the Highest

I have loved Christmas lights from the time I was a small boy. Whether they were on my family’s Christmas tree at home, or adorning various houses on the drive home from my grandparents’ house, it was always a thrill to see Christmas lights. Sometimes my Dad would take the long way home just so we could see more Christmas lights.

Back in the late fifties we always had real a Christmas tree with those big, colorful, tear-shaped lights, the same kind you see on Ralphie’s Christmas tree in A Christmas Story. Then sometime in the 1960s Mom got tired of cleaning up pine needles and we got an artificial tree. For a while we used the old lights, but by the 1970s we had changed to the smaller, brighter lights shaped like tiny eyedroppers.

And the artificial trees were different in another crucial respect: the branches didn’t go all the way to the ground. (I guess that was to make room for more presents…?) That key difference made it possible to do something my brothers and I had never done before: we could lay under the tree and look up at the lights through the branches…at least until the presents crowded us out. I always thought it was especially beautiful, seeing the lights that way. Even as an adult from time to time I have laid down with my head under the tree to see the lights (when no one was looking).

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Highway 67

U. S. Highway 66, or Route 66 as it is usually called, is an iconic, legendary American highway. It runs for 2,448 miles, starting from Chicago, Illinois, and meandering south and west all the way to Santa Monica, California. It’s been immortalized in song—apparently you can “get your kicks on Route 66.” And when I was a kid, there was a TV show called “Route 66” that ran for four seasons, starting in 1960. (I liked the show. I didn’t know what it was about, but the guys drove a Corvette, and that was good enough for me.)

There is also a U.S. Route 67, which runs from Sabula, Iowa (Anybody been to Sabula lately?), going south and then southwest to end at Presidio, Texas, on the Mexican border. Route 67 is not as long as Route 66—only 1,560 miles. And to my knowledge, there aren’t any songs written or TV shows produced about Route 67.

More humble still is our own Indiana State Road 67. It cuts across our state diagonally from Vincennes through Indianapolis to end at the state line near Celina, Ohio. It isn’t very long at all, by comparison. The entire length just misses the 200-mile mark, being officially listed as 199.24 miles long. (That’s 320.65 kilometers for all you Europeans out there.)

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