Month: March 2013

One Big Thing and Three Small Things

Jesus CrossThe big thing today is Easter.  Jesus rose from the dead.  Everything is small in comparison.

Last night at dinner, my son Nate said, “Hey, the last episode of ‘The Bible (on The History Channel) will focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection and it’s being shown on Easter Sunday.  Do you think that’s a coincidence?”  (He was joking.)  We’ll be watching tonight.

My brief assessment of “The Bible”: each week I’m disappointed about one aspect (e.g., too much violence), and elated about one aspect.  Last week (session 4), Jesus’ call of Matthew while telling the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector moved me to tears.  But even for the parts that are disappointing, it’s always helpful to see the stories enacted.  I’ve pre-ordered it (Amazon releases it on April 2, $29.96).

Have you been watching?  What have you thought about The Bible?  

Three minor announcements (these are the small things):

1) God Behaving Badly on Kindle for only $2.99 expires today.  I doubt this deal will be resurrected.

2) I can’t seem to watch “The Bible and You“, the Canadian documentary that includes interviews with famous people and less famous people (Shannon and myself).  Any suggestions?  The four preview clips work.  I have them listed on this blog.  Each 10 minute clip includes two 2-3 minute clips of the documentary, and 4-5 minutes of the 2 hosts talking about it.

3) Wheaton Old Testament professor John Walton is giving a lecture at Cairn University (used to be Philadelphia Biblical University) on Tues, April 2 at 7:00 at Holmes Hall on Genesis 1, 2, subject of his book, The Lost World of Genesis One.  I’m planning on going.  If you live local, you should go.  It’ll be good.  (Thanks to Gary Schnittjer for telling me about it last night at church.)

He is risen. Indeed.  

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Good Friday and Two WWII Prisoners (Bonhoeffer and Zamperini

Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Louis Zamperini.  Two WWII prisoners of war.  One imprisoned in Germany, the other in Japan.  One survives, the other is killed.  Two books published in 2010.

I’ve just finished reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (by Eric Metaxas, author of Amazing Grace) and Unbroken (by Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit).

I didn’t say, “Hey, I feel like reading books about WWII prisoners of war.”  It was rather random.  My father recommended Bonhoeffer and my neighbor Steve recommended Unbroken.  But as I was reflecting upon life and death on this Good Friday morning, I was struck by the similarities and differences between these two men, and wondered about their fates.

Why did Zamperini survive his multiple-year imprisonment and Bonhoeffer didn’t?

louis zamperini

Zamperini was an Olympic athlete (5000 meters), who actually met Hitler at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.  In 1942, he was part of a US Air Force crew that was forced to take out a damaged plane on a rescue mission and their plane crashed into a remote region of the South Pacific.  For 47 days he and the pilot floated in a raft, until they were picked up by the Japanese.  Unbroken tells his amazing story of survival in the midst of starvation and torture.  He should have died multiple times, but miraculously survived.  Not really a spiritual man, he prayed for deliverance along the way.  (As they say, “No atheists in fox holes.”)  God heard his prayer and he survived.  Zamperini had a more dramatic conversion post-war involving Billy Graham.  He’s still alive today at 96 years-old.  There are some gruesome bits in the book, but overall it’s a great story.  I highly recommend it.  Hopefully, to be made into a film like Seabiscuit.

Pastor_Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer was a theologian (which doesn’t sound as exciting as a martyr, prophet or spy, but trust me, our lives are just as exciting as spies) who stood up to the Nazi’s during WWII.  His books are classics: Life Together, The Cost of Discipleship (#1 Seed in Greatest Christian Books of All Time, March Madness edition).  While at times I thought Metaxas’ book included too many quotations from letters, books and other documents, everything written by Bonhoeffer was gold.  A great read.  Personally, inspiring to me, as I humbling try to follow Bonhoeffer’s example (not getting killed by the Nazi’s though, hopefully).  Bonhoeffer was captured in April 1943 and executed in April 1945, just two weeks before Allied forces liberated the camp.  What a waste!

So, why did God allow Bonhoeffer to die at age 39 when he could have written so much more?  What was God thinking?  One might assume that God would be more interested in preserving the life of his devoted servant (Bonhoeffer) more than Zamperini, who was far from living a pious life.

Of course for that matter, I guess the same could be said for Jesus.  What a waste!  He could have done a lot more if God had allowed him to live to a ripe old age like Louis Zamperini.  But then, our sins wouldn’t be atoned for.  That would be a bad thing, particularly for those of us like me who have a lot of sins that require atonement.  So, in a twisted way, I’m glad God didn’t spare Jesus’ life.

Thanks, God for sending your son to die for me, my family and my friends.  

I know Bonhoeffer’s death wasn’t necessary to atone for the sins of the world, so why did God not allow him to survive?

You’re Probably More Like Judas Than You Think | Christianity Today

Judas

Friends Derek Cooper and Ed Cyzewski have an excerpt from their new book on Christianity Today’s website.

Check it out here:

You’re Probably More Like Judas Than You Think.

Not exactly comforting to think we’re like Judas, huh?

The book itself, UnFollowers: The Oversights, Distractions, and Misconceptions that Keep Us from Following Jesus, won’t come out until February 2014 (Wesleyan Publishing).

Shannon and Dave on TV: “The Bible and You”

The Bible and You Documentary

This Saturday (March 30) at 9:00 pm a documentary entitled “The Bible and You” will air on CTS (a Canadian Network).

It will include interviews from famous people: Tony Campolo, Craig Evans (author of Fabricating Jesus), Eric Metaxas (author of the Amazing Grace and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy), A. J. Jacobs (author of The Year of Living Biblically), Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (co-producers of “The Bible” currently airing on The History Channel).  These are the people who get mentioned in the publicity.

It will also include interviews from less famous people: Shannon and Dave Lamb.  These are the people who don’t get mentioned in the publicity.

If you don’t live in Canada, it will be streamed live (click here) Saturday at 9:00 pm.  It will be available online on-demand until Monday, April 1st at 11:59 pm.

I’ve been told there are 4 clips each of Shannon and me, totaling about 2 minutes each.  So, I guess we each have 3 more minutes of fame left.

There are 4 previews, each about 10 minutes long: Clip #1.  Clip #2 .  Clip #3.   Clip #4.  Shannon appears in clips #1, #3, #4.  I appear in #2 (9:25-9:55 – Psalm 119), #3, #4.

What I’ve seen of the documentary looks fantastic (particularly the bits with Shannon).  I hope you’re able to see it.

(Only four more days of God Behaving Badly on Kindle for only $2.99.)

Tell me what you think.