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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feeding doves (Photo by Fwren)
Feeding Doves
Photo by Fwren (used by permission)

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"Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead" (Acts 20:9).

Sleeping man
For some time the clock on the back wall of our church has not been working. As I recall the last time I preached I commented on it (using it to the preacher’s advantage.) The trustees have been working on the matter, having replaced the first broken clock, but apparently a second clock has not kept time either. Yesterday my friend, Ken, called me about a clock they were considering purchasing online. Ken is an enthusiastic, diligent young man who is a joy to be around. He was concerned about online security and was calling me for advice.

He was excited about the clock they had in mind. "It's an atomic clock" he told me. When I hear atomic I think nuclear and I semi teased him, "Ken, do you think it's wise to have a nuclear powered clock in our church?" Our area was personally impacted nearly 30 years ago by the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident and people around here can be sensitive about these matters.

He laughed and informed me that by atomic it somehow got the time from a satellite and was accurate to one millionth of a second.  I’m just hoping that doesn't cause too much stress for our pastor!

Many churches have clocks, although I've attended a few who for "theological" reasons do not allow them in the sanctuary.  As a pastor for many years, I grew accustomed to seeing people discreetly glance at the clock on the back wall as the worship service was nearing an end.  I have never seen a clock on the front wall behind the preacher.  Hmmm, I wonder why!

Acts 20 has an interesting story. The apostle Paul was traveling and stopped by Troas, where he stayed for seven days. On the last day he was with them they gathered to break bread and Paul spoke to the people. He kept talking till midnight in an upstairs room with many lamps when a most unusual event took place.

"Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on."  I can imagine that lengthy service. I've sat through a few of those, myself, and I am usually pretty tired by midnight.  Lamps of their time surely would not have provided the type of light conducive to wakefulness. And Eutychus sat in an upstairs window; surely a recipe for disaster as "Paul talked on and on."

Sermons have gotten shorter during my lifetime and certainly have throughout Bible and church history.  Most people don't want more than half an hour now in much of the western church and the pastor sure better have some bells and whistles to keep the people’s attention, like PowerPoint and video supplements.  But people still fall asleep in church!

Sleeping man
"When he (Eutychus) was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead."  Now I've experienced some interesting disruptions in church services. I recall, as a boy, someone dropping the offering plate off the balcony with a loud clanging of change spilling out in all directions on the tile floor (thankfully it didn't hit anybody below.)  A common disruption in our churches today are the cell phones that don’t get turned off.  It’s one thing for parishioners to forget to turn off the ringer; quite another annoyance when they feel obligated to take the call right in their pew, which actually happened one time when I was preaching.  Well, I’m getting off subject and the clock on my computer is ticking away (accurate timing and all) so let me get back on subject.

Paul and Eutychus
If the internet were available in the New Testament period this would have been a top of the news story, hitting every public and cable network and major newspaper.  Reporters surely would have been on the scene with their interpretation of the situation. See below for a link to the entire Scripture text and "the rest of the story!"

The full meaning of the story perhaps only God knows, but clearly this is an account of human weakness and divine intervention.  The next time you get sleepy in church perhaps Eutychus’ story will come to mind and it will prompt you to sit a little taller and lean forward as you listen more intently to what God has to say through His appointed messenger.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for godly messengers who faithfully feed Your children by diligently teaching the whole counsel of Your Holy Word.  Some attend church with an intense spiritual hunger, while others may come out of a sense of duty or to be seen by others.  Give us a hungry heart that yearns for more of You so that our lives are set apart to honor and glorify Jesus Christ in all that we do.  May we be attentive to Your life-transforming truths as You impart them to our hearts in our personal devotions and through Your annointed messengers.  Amen.

Brooksyne’s Note:  I have very vivid memories of growing up in church with a father who frequently slept during the pastor’s sermons.  Daddy was a laborer who would fall asleep in most any setting if he wasn’t in conversation or physically laboring.  As we grew older my siblings and I would sit a few rows in front of my parents, but we’d know when Daddy fell asleep.  There’d be a deep, masculine snore and then it would suddenly stop.  Mom kept Dad’s snoring under control by kicking her foot against his.  He’d wake up momentarily but fall back to sleep in a short time. 

One Sunday evening Daddy fell asleep in the front pew of the church.  Even in his sleep he could often follow the order of the service.  In his sleepy stupor he mistakenly thought the pastor said, “Brother Sherrell, would you close our time in prayer?”  He suddenly stood up and began to pray out a dismissal prayer...…..only to be informed that the pastor was in the middle of his sermon!  Imagine how mortified my family was at Dad's mistake! 

Perhaps that extremely embarrassing experience kept him a bit more alert for, at least the following Sunday!

Our neighbors have four week St. Bernard pups for sale.  
Their five year old daughter, Janae, is cuddling them as she excitedly poses for the camera.  

The story of Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12)

Many years ago Christianity Today had a humor column I enjoyed called "Eutychus and His Kin".  I suppose a few of you may recall it! I do enjoy using humor to convey spiritual truths. I have a blog I don't have much time to update called "A Little Foolishness".  I also enjoy this blog, which is generally updated daily.  Caution: this is satire!

Today's photo: The photo of the feeding doves at the top of today's message was taken by Fwren (her online name), an online photographer I have been enjoying for about six months. She is a friend of our local friends Cerwin and Doris High. She has given me permission to periodically use her photos on this site.  Her photos can be seen here.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"Holy Is The Lord" (audio) This song has absolutely no relation to today's topic but we both like the song and we really couldn't think of any songs that specifically go with today's message!

Info about multi-media files used on daily encouragement.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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