The state of Vermont endured historic flooding in July 2023, the worst since Tropical Storm Irene hit the landlocked state in 2011. Rivers overflowed, with the Winooski in Montpelier cresting at 21.02 feet, the highest since 1927. Two people died, including one hiker on the Appalachian Trial. Local police, fire, and emergency medical services responded, as did the National Guard from Vermont and the surrounding states. The American Red Cross arrived to provide shelter and other services.
Other groups came to Vermont to help, but with much less fanfare, including the Samaritan’s Purse, Salvation Army, and Billy Graham’s chaplains. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sent hundreds of volunteer responders to help flood victims recover. I joined the West Virginia team in Barre VT, from 23 to 29 July. Led by Ron W and supported by Roy P. (SBDR’s incident commander), our group of eight tackled recovery jobs throughout the region.
Continue reading “Southern Baptist Disaster Relief”
The Bible leads people to salvation, but sometimes is unclear about what is required. What are the core beliefs that one must have to be a Christian? When the apostles tell us to follow the fundamental truths of the Faith, what do they mean? What can followers of Christ disagree on without breaking fellowship? What differences in theology are so serious that Christians must separate themselves from people who hold wrong views
By Mark D. Harris
Our Sunday School class has been working through the letters of John for the past several weeks. In them, the Apostle repeatedly calls for his readers to know the truth. Most people, even those who deny objective moral truth, believe in some kind of truth. Religions, and non-religious philosophies, claim to contain and convey truth, and ask their adherents to accept it.
The word “saved” differs from one religion and/or philosophy to another. To a Christian, one is saved from separation from God. To a Buddhist, one is saved from false beliefs. To a Marxist, one is saved from economic oppression. To a Muslim, one is saved from hell. Keeping in mind that “salvation” differs by context, we will investigate how to achieve it.
How to be “saved” in major non-Christian religions
Every religion requires adherence to a set of beliefs and actions by those who wish to be part of that faith. For example, Islam expects its followers to do the five pillars:
- Shahada – testify that “there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His prophet.”
- Zakat – pay tithes.
- Salah – pray towards Mecca five times per day.
- Sawm – fast during Ramadan.
- Hajj – make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muslims are likewise required to perform good works, having just dealings with others, and may be called to fight in a holy war (jihad). Islam has dietary requirements, such as prohibitions on alcohol and pork, and rules for the social order. If one believes and does these things, he or she can justly consider him or herself to be a Muslim and will be considered so by others. After death, if a Muslim’s good deeds outweigh the bad, or if he is killed in a jihad, he or she will enjoy paradise.
Continue reading “What must I do to be saved?”
An Easter sermon on how to deal with the reality of our future…death.
By Mark D. Harris, (Resurrection Service, MBC, Easter 2023)
Prelude – Trombone and French Horn, Low in the Grave He Lay
Congregational song – Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Congregational song – He Lives
(Standing in a cemetery)
Welcome to our future.
Look around. What do you see? Someday we will all be here, or someplace like it, or scattered across land or sea. We cannot avoid it…no man can. Even God abode in the grave. In a few short decades, or years, or minutes, we will be here, never to leave.
Our place at the table will be empty. Our voice in the home will be stilled. The warmth of our touch and twinkle in our eye will be forgotten. Our hopes and dreams will have come… and gone.
Deep in our hearts, we know that this is wrong. Death seems unnatural, and the decay of our mortal frame is not only terrifying. It is offensive.
Continue reading “Welcome to our Future”
God created man, and He is the One who knows best how we should live. As created beings, we do not own ourselves, but we belong to Him who made us, loves us, and died and rose again for us. What is a man? Whatever He says we are.
By Mark D. Harris
I was called upon to speak at our recent men’s prayer breakfast at Memorial Baptist Church in Beckley WV. As I was thinking and praying about what to discuss, God brought to mind a recent incident at the US Capitol. Senator Marsha Blackburn asked Ketanji Jackson, who was hoping to become a Supreme Court Justice, “please define woman.” Ms. Jackson replied, “I can’t, I’m not a biologist.”
My first reaction on hearing that story for the first time was laughter. The progressives, to whom-Justice Jackson now belongs, argue that transgenderism is possible because gender is not biologically determined. Justice Jackson’s answer reveals that she, at heart, believes that gender is biologically determined. In six words, this paragon of the progressives undermined their entire case.
My second reaction was to ask the complementary question, what is a man? The internet has a variety of answers:
Continue reading “What is a Man?”