Friday, October 31, 2003

October 31, 2003

12:41 PM This comes from the Heidelburg Catecism of 1563. Luther didn’t write it (he was in heaven by then), but it truly reflects his sentiments.

What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.

12:36 PM On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany, thus sparking the Protestant Reformation. Here’s a brief quote from Luther that seem appropriate to this day:

Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.

11:48 AM Received a letter from “James” at Calipatria State Prison in CA. Here is part of what he wrote: “Sir, I am in prison and I share my testimony with other inmates here in prison. I’m in a Level IV maximum security prison–one of the most violent in the state of California.” To read the whole letter, click here. 11:13 AM Renovation update: Lots of noise and dust everywhere today… . Work being done on the new nursery … Insulation and sheetrock being installed in the new classrooms/offices in the former gym stage area … Most exciting news: Lots of progress on the portico. Steel beams now up, wood frame for the roof going up, and at long last, the first stones are being laid (these are large granite stones) for the new outside walls. 10:23 AM From the “Halloween Surprise” Department: Toward the end of pastoral staff meeting, there was a knock at my door. I looked up and saw Nick standing there in a Samford sweatshirt. Since he was supposed to be going to class a few hundred miles away this AM, I just stared at him, trying to figure out what was happening. It was like seeing a ghost. Then I realized it was really Nick standing in my office with a big, goofy grin on his face. He and John Mark Edwards — more or less on a whim — decided to leave Birmingham last night at 6:30 PM and drive home for the weekend. They arrived at John Mark’s home in Oak Park at 4:30 AM. They woke up the Edwards (who were also surprised to see them) and Karen made them breakfast. Later they went to the high school and saw some of the football coaches. He came over the school and surprised Marlene first and then came up to my office and did the same to me. Right now he’s home, sleeping I suppose. They plan to drive back to Birmingham on Sunday. Oh to be young again and think nothing of a ten-hour drive home for the weekend. 6:17 AM In last Sunday’s sermon, I mentioned the fascinating story of William E. Blackstone (1841-1935) , outstanding Christian layman, friend of D. L. Moody, strong supporter of world missions, student of Bible prophecy, and author of Jesus is Coming, the first popular widely-popular book on Bible prophecy. It has been continuously in print since 1878. Mr. Blackstone was one of the first Christians to call for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and has been called “the father of Christian Zionism.” His 1891 “Blackstone Declaration” (signed by 413 Christian and Jewish leaders) was the first public statement in favor a Jewish statement in Palestine. Mr. Blackstone lived in Oak Park for many years. His home was located at 941 Lake Street in what is now the west parking lot of Calvary Memorial Church. Josh has posted a picture of Mr. Blackstone’s home, taken in the late 1800s. The tree at the far left of the picture still stands today near the west entrance to the sanctuary lobby. Ken Sadler found the picture in the Oak Park historical archives. He also has done extensive research on Oak Park’s Christian heritage. I first learned of the Calvary-William Blackstone connection from him. Here is some additional information on the Blackstone home he sent to me:

The building was constructed for Mr. & Mrs. Philander Smith, the parents in-law of William E. Blackstone in 1870. After Mr. Smith passed on the Blackstone’s move further west on Lake Street into the home with Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith made a substantial donation to a “college for Negroes” in Little Rock Arkansas. I believe it was called the Walden Seminary. The name of the school was then change to the Philander Smith College, which remains to this day. Mrs. Smith made many contributions to missionary works around the world. I would guess that Mrs. Smith and the Blackstone’s attended the D. L. Moody meetings in Oak Park held by the Congregational Church in 1898. No doubt Mr. Blackstone hosted many missionaries and Christian leaders in their home on Lake Street. After the Blackstone’s relocated to Pasadena, California in 1900 the home was rented out. A few years later Mr. Blackstone sold it to the Hephzibah Children’s Home. They used the building till the Presbyterian Church expanded and divided the property lot. Hephzibah then constructed a new building on the south end of the divided lot facing North Blvd. The large tree in Calvary’s parking lot was on the property line of the Blackstone Hephzibah property. It is a privilege and honor for the Calvary Memorial Church to have on its property the former residence site of the William E. Blackstone home, “America’s most famous Christian Zionist.”

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