Pondering God Podcast returns with Message Monday – A message delivered by Craig McCourt. Today’s message was delivered on Sunday, November 26th on the Last Sunday of the church year. The pdf outline for this message are available HERE
With Texas still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Harvey, a new threat Hurricane Irma has risen to the level of a category 5 monster storm with wind gusts in excess of 210 mph. In Today’s Pondering God Audio episode we discuss sin and its connection to these monsters we call hurricanes.
To help the relief efforts in Texas as they begin the long journey to recovery text LCMSHARVEY to 41444 or visit https://www.lcms.org/givenow/hurricane
Last week we shared that Luther was ranked number 3 on the Time-Life millennium list. Time-Life undertook to amass a list of the most important events and people of the past 1,000 years. After several months of “very contentious meetings”, they arrived at the top 100.
So while the good Dr. Luther made number three on the list I know the burning question in your mind is who made number one! That belongs to Johann Gutenberg, but more precisely the Gutenberg Bible! That is an anniversary worth celebrating as well!
In 1455 Gutenberg marked a milestone in the millennium’s technology revolution when he mastered typeset printing. Gutenberg printed 300 of his amazingly beautiful Bibles, today know as the “Gutenberg Bible.” Today only 48 copies are known to have survived, and they are an amazing treasure.
You might be asking why an event from 1455 is being talked about on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation? Simple – without the printing press Martin Luther’s 95 theses might have died on the church door where he posted them. But it was the wide circulation of his works that sped the reformation along.
Luther Made the List
There are lots of lists on which you might find Martin Luther’s name. Some of them might include; Most Prolific Authors, Great Hymn Writers, Great Lutheran Theologians, Well Know Excommunicated Catholics, just to name a few.
There is one list that came out in 1998 as the world prepared for the new millennium. Time-Life undertook to amass a list of the most important events and people of the past 1,000 years. They gathered ideas from around the globe from scholars, world leaders, and everyday people. They then began to draw the list down and after several months of “very contentious meetings,” they arrived at the top 100.
It might not surprise you at all that Martin Luther was on the list, but it might surprise you that he was ranked #3. The event that put Luther on the list is what we are celebrating this year – the nailing of the 95 these on the church door.
“The Reformation had begun: Political authorities would never again be fully subject to the dictates of a distant clergy, and the map of Europe would be determined by the nationalism that still dominates world politics today.” (from “The Life Millennium”)
Yesterday was the day, the day of the big Solar Eclipse. Many people traveled great distances to get a better view of the event, to see it in “totality.” I was not one of those people. While I remember the last big solar eclipse in the 70’s and I remember making a pin hole box, and also making viewing glasses our of 35mm film my schedule did not allow me to see the big event this year.
I was in the air, flying under the totality of the eclipse as it happened. I got a window seat, and I am an aisle man, just so I might be able to take a photo of the big event. I took lots of “blind” photos as I held the camera at a low angle at the base of the window and attempted to capture the big event. Let’s just say, been there done that, don’t need to try that again in 2099. All this did was take up a little more room on my memory card, to clear off later.
The woman sitting with me, in the coveted aisle seat, would from time to time glance up from her book and glance toward the window. I couldn’t quite figure out if she was more interested in what the oddball next to her was doing or if she wanted to witness what she could of the eclipse. Finally, after about my 50th attempt to get something with my camera, she said, “I don’t get it, what is the big deal? It’s just an eclipse.” I replied, “I think it is just the rarity of the event that has people excited. I pray I don’t see the next one in 2099.”
That seemed to satisfy her question and she went back to her book, for a few moments. I quietly sat in my window seat and continued to point my camera at something I could not see. I’m guessing it just took a while to register with her, but after a few moments she turned and said, “Why don’t you want to see it in 2099?” I told her I hoped to be with Jesus LONG before that. Suddenly the conversation I had early that morning with my wife came to mind, as we marveled at the wonder of the eclipse, and the amazing God who put this whole thing in motion.
I put down my camera and said, “I think it is the unbelievable clockwork of the universe that makes people want to see this event?” She was puzzled by this statement and gave me a “what are you talking about” look. So I continued, “Doesn’t it amaze you that God, who I know put all this together did it with such precision that can predict it down to the minute? Not just for this eclipse but for the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that. So many people think that this whole universe is just a random shot in the dark from some mysterious big bang, but chaos does not produce such precision, a brilliant designer causes this precision.”
It was back, that “What are you talking about” look. This time it came with a response, “Never given it much thought.” “That,” I said, “Is why the solar eclipse is such a big deal it displays the genius of our God. The Bible even tells us that the skies proclaim the work of God. My favorite verse says of the stars that “night after night they pour forth speech and are not silent. Just a little more proof that God is real and active in His creation. Are you a Christian?” Her response was quick and dismissive, “I was as a child – my parent’s idea not mine.” and she planted her face back in her book to close this conversation.
She didn’t know that I’ve taught confirmation to middle schoolers for 30+ years and it will take more than looking away to stop me from talking, I was on a roll. But before I could say something that might make her wish she had chosen a different seat, I simply said. “I’ll pray that you come to know Christ again.”
Then there was silence.
When we got up to get off the plane she noticed for the first time my t-shirt which on the front reads “God Loves you, but I’m his favorite*” She smiled and said, “I bet you are.” I mentioned that my wife would be upset if you don’t read the back of the shirt (long story for another day) so I offered her a chance. It reads “*Your His favorite too!” followed by Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
I hope I left her today “Pondering God.”
What’s the Big deal? It’s just an Eclipse – or as I like to call it “God showing off!”
Something to Ponder: How does God reveal Himself to you through His creation?
Share your Eclipse experience and thoughts in the comments below.
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This morning I had the joy of meeting with a couple that is just 5 weeks away from their big day. I asked to meet with them since they have asked me to speak at their wedding. When we decided to get together it was suggested that we meet at a Coffee Shop here in Eden Prairie. (For the record It was their idea to meet at a coffee shop – No objection from me!)
So this morning I got up early, ran to the farmers market, to stock up on some fresh veggies then headed off to the coffee shop. I had to circle through the parking lot twice before I went to plan B for parking. Plan B was to drive down the street and wait in the next parking lot and watch…. for a car to leave and then move in for the kill! It worked! Before long I saw not one but two cars leave the parking lot so I moved in for a spot!
Don’t Stop Here There is MORE>>>>
Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483, in Germany to Hans and Margarette Luder. Did you catch the fun fact yet? Martin Luder changed his name. Many believe choose to change his name to something that sounded more academic. While his father was a successful miner and ore smelter his upbringings were quite humble. Luther would begin his academic adventure on the route to becoming a lawyer but would later forego that route to begin a spiritual journey he could have never planned for.
The Reformation could have ended before it ever started. At the age of 19 Luther almost died. He was on his way home from school, when a dagger pierced his leg, cutting an artery. A classmate and friend of Luther is credited with saving his life by quickly fetching a doctor. Lying at the edge of the road till the doctor came, he cried to the mother of Jesus, “O, Mary, help!” His Wittenberg friends later criticized him for appealing to Mary instead of Jesus.
By the time Luther’s life was over he had written over 60, 000 pages. His great desire was not to be remembered, in fact, it is reported that he once hoped that “all of my books would be gone and only Holy Scripture remain.”
EGO SOLUS (Self Alone) is not one of the great Solas of the Reformation.
American culture has been chronicled by some great and not so great magazines over the years. These magazine titles can tell us a great deal about our self-centered human nature.
LOOK was a bi-weekly publication that began in 1937 it was a general purpose magazine with short articles and lots of photos.
LIFE began as a humor magazine in 1883 and ran until 1936. Starting in 1937 it started telling the great stories of life and living.
PEOPLE hit the shelves in 1974 and took our focus from all of life to just the people and their stories.
US which began in 1977 narrowed our focus down even more from all of the people to just -US, and not them.
SELF narrowed the focus down, even more, starting in 1979 as it began to concern itself with only me.
The reformation’s great Solas remind us that we are not at the core of our life and salvation but it is by Faith Alone, through Grace Alone, in Christ Alone, as revealed in Scripture Alone that we can proclaim:
Soli Deo Gloria – “glory to God alone.”
Here is a free unbranded 500th Anniversary of the Reformation resource you can use alone or with the bulletin insert series from www.lutheranreformation.org. Click on the Slideshare link located at the base of the slideshow to visit Slideshare where you can download this free (and completely editable Reformation resource file.