What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Any Given Sunday

Today a lady visited the church. She came in late so I didn't get to talk to her until after the worship gathering. Turns out she was there to ask me to conduct her funeral. I conducted her husband's funeral about a dozen years ago. She has a terminal disease and not long to live. I wondered why her eyes were closed during the entire sermon. Apparently she is on heavy medication and in a lot of pain.

I debated putting this in my blog but I think people need to know the stories behind the stories - what's going on in the hearts and lives of people sitting beside them on any given Sunday.

As I preached from 1 John chapter five I saw smiles and frowns, heads nodding in agreement as well as some looking as though they might not be so sure of the validity of what I was saying. Its good to have seekers in the house along with the committed core.

One young man about 30 years of age told me that he had been thinking about it for a while and decided to make a faith commitment to Christ. That was good news. He's been prayed for quite a while. Now we pray for his growth in Christ.

Out in the parking lot before the worship gathering began I was talking with a teen guy in the church about landscaping. I want him to help me on a Faith in Action project next month since he had recently told me he wanted to go into landscaping when he got out of high school. As we were in front of the church a guy in the neighborhood who had visited us several times but hadn't been back in a few weeks drove by. He didn't notice me but I noticed him. He was looking at all of the cars in the parking lot and it almost seemed he was wanting to pull in but drove on by. My heart went out to him. I'll try to call him this week.

May God remind us that others are hurting, seeking, lost and lonely. And we may come in contact with them, not only on any given Sunday, but any given day of the week.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Will you be a Fust, Schoffer, or Gutenberg?

Familiar with the names Fust and Schoffer? Probably not unless you're a history nerd.

Fust was the man who sued Gutenberg in court and took from him the printing establishment used to mass produce the first book - the Gutenberg Bible. Schoffer was Fust's son-in-law who worked in and became rich taking over the family business after Fust's death.

Their names do not come close to the fame of Gutenberg's. But they reaped the benefits of what he began.

Just finished "Gutenberg, How One Man Remade the World with Words," by John Man. It was my Easter weekend read.

Fascinating that Gutenberg, the man who invented movable type printing - and used the Bible as his first mass-produced best seller - underwent such a roller coaster of success and failure during his lifetime.

Not only did he have difficulty with his primary partner in business, Fust, but he also lived in the midst of almost total societal chaos. The Catholic Church was rife with internal schism, including one time period where there were three popes - simultaneously! The Turks were threatening the stability of Europe after the fall of Constantinople (Byzantium) in the east, and many towns and cities fell prey to financial and military overthrow stemming from the constant bickering of would-be bishops, cardinals, popes and strife between economic classes.

But the fete Gutenberg accomplished - lauded by many as the most important event of the last millenium - was monumental. Books were no longer the result of the painstakingly long drawn out process of being hand-written by scribes (manuscripts) or stamped with wooden blocks. Moveable type printing was one of those really BIG innovations that caused a quantum shift in world history.

Maybe it's a mid-life thing for me, but the story of Guttenberg made me think about the important things in life. It's not about wealth and fame. It's about legacy.

Postscript(s): The invention of printing - Gutenberg style - was extremely influential in the Protestant Reformation. Men like Luther, Tyndale, Wycliffe, etc., were now able to translate and mass produce Bibles in the simple language of their people.

Luther said of printing that it was, "God's highest and extremest act of grace, whereby the business of the Gospel is driven forward." John Foxe put it this way in his "Book of Martyrs," (Published in 1563 - and, on a personal note, one of my top ten favorite books of all time. Read it as a teenager.) "The Lord began to work for His Church not with sword and target to subdue His exalted adversary, but with printing, writing and reading... Either the Pope must abolish knowledge and printing or printing must at length root him out."

One of Rome's major "counter-Reformation" tactics was to ban, burn and effectively attempt to eradicate all printed matter that did not support their point of view. Ha! Can you say "backfire?" For instance, if copies of Tyndale's Bible were burned by the thousands by the Pope and his minions, they were reprinted by the tens of thousands and sold like wildfire.

Fust and Schoffer may have become wealthy in their day by capitalizing on Gutenberg's creation. But Johnny Gutenberg is the man we all immortalize.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mind Sweeping

I was thinking about eschatology today - the study of the end times - the second coming of Christ, etc. Wonder why we call it the end times? When Jesus returns it won't be the end - it will just be the beginning. I often wonder if I think enough about heaven and eternity.

  • My wife begins her Spring break from pre-school teaching tomorrow. Wonder why all adults don't get a Spring break?
  • The NCAA basketball tournament is upon us and it looks wide open to me. I'm pulling for my home state of Maryland and the state in which our three children were born - Indiana. Alabama isn't that well known for it's basketball but one of the guys told me at church last night that Spring practice for football began today. BAMA had the best recruiting class in the nation this year. ROLL TIDE!
  • Finished a book by Lee Strobel today called "The Case for the Real Jesus," which invesigates the current attacks on the identity of Jesus. Strobel's previous works include, "The Case for Christ," "The Case for Easter," "The Case for Faith," "The Case for a Creator," and perhaps some other "Case for" book. I not sure how many are in this series. This volume was timely for me because I'm teaching through the Apostle John's first letter where he rallies the church against Gnosticism, the first century attack on the identity of Jesus. Much of the book was repeat apologetics for me, but still, very timely stuff for our friends in postmodern American culture. The evidence for Jesus as God's Son is overwhelming to any person without serious presuppositions to the contrary.
  • Found John Grisham's newest novel in the thrift store today! "The Appeal," first edition, 2008. Moved it to the top of the stack of readables.
  • I know several people to whom God is speaking. Hope the Easter season brings new spiritual life to them in the risen Christ. Praying to that end.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

It's Official - I'm an Eli Stone Fan

Yes, yes I realize this quirky Thursday night TV show's idea of the supernatural and deity is not totally Christian. (The acupuncturist who serves as a counselor to the star of the series mixes mention of biblical prophets like Moses with a sprinkling from a Mayan legend, etc.) And I realize some of the causes the young lawyer Eli Stone represents are of the "politically correct" variety. But sometimes (sometimes) politically correct is also biblically correct. The two are not always mutually exclusive.

Christ followers can identify with this new show because it speaks of the human need of realizing that there is a plan for each of our lives that is higher than what we can comprehend without Divine guidance. I'm also impressed with the court cases Stone now takes after his brain aneurysm. Instead of being concerned solely about being a "rainmaker" (courting the cases that bring in the big bucks for his firm) Stone is now interested in helping the underdog because of the visions he receives.

To me, this show, which appeared as a mid-season replacement right after the return episode of LOST, entertains in a way that also makes a point - a worthwhile point.

It's touching that Stone looks back and understands his father's idiosyncrasies better now that he is a man grappling with the vagaries of life himself.

Like all TV series that stand out, this show mixes exceptionally creative writing, stories from the headlines, and interactive characters that represent people we all work with.

And, oh yeah, I dig the songs and the wacky way music is used to introduce important (and spiritual) truth to Stone.