Past Boston Marathon 2nd Place Winner's Reflection On Bombing

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The Explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday April 15, 2013.
 
The Boston Marathon is dear to my heart.  I’ve run the Boston Marathon numerous times, finishing 2nd three times in a row and setting an American record for the Marathon in 1981.  My husband has run the Boston Marathon and placed 8th.  I’ve not only run the race, but sold tee shirts at the starting line.  I’ve interviewed the winners for a TV station and commented for the radio. I’ve been a guest in the lead vehicle to watch.  I’ve held bags with changes of clothes for friends.  I’ve done a lot at the Boston Marathon. I was born and raised in Boston, and I lived most of my life in that area. I know the place in Dorchester where the Richard family lives.
 
After our competitive running careers, my husband and I would take our two children to the Boston Marathon to watch the runners go by and to congratulate our running friends for competing in the race.  At times we’ve had passes to sit on the bleachers. Sometimes we’ve walked up and down Boylston street to watch the runners and treated ourselves to ice cream.  The Boston Marathon is an international sporting event, and the the only sporting event where an ordinary person may participate, providing they qualify within a certain time or raise funds for a charity.
 
I had DVR’ed this years race due to my husband working and my son having classes. We would be able to watch it together later in the day.  I was doing yard work and wondering about this years race, since we had a friend from Wyoming running this year, Thomas Fagan.  He had qualified and trained hard all year.  My cell phone went off and my husband was on the other end asking, “Are you near a TV? Turn on the TV.” 
 
The last time he asked me to turn on the TV was September 11, 2001. 
 
I clicked it on and saw the smoke on Boylston street - saw all yellow jackets, heard a commentator saying “They’re dead!” – and I immediately said “Oh my God, the Fagans.....” And I said the Our Father. 
 
Our father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...
 
I called Lisa Fagan, and I got through before the cell towers were cut off. “Patti, what’s happening? I can’t find Thomas or Steve.” She said.
 
“Did you call them?” I asked... 
 
“No, they don’t have a phone with them.”
 
I got off the phone so her line would be clear in case they called.
 
My Boston has been attacked. My running family has been attacked. Who would do such a thing? was not my first thought.  My first thought was, My daughter and I did not go to watch this year.  I wasn’t feeling up to it.  Funny.  I was really looking more forward to the time I would be having later at home listening to our friend from Wyoming, regaling his adventure of his first run of the Boston Marathon.
 
I watched images on the screen, horrified.  I was transfixed.  I prayed the our father again and again.Matthew 6:9
 
I waited along with many others for the names to be released of the three casualties 176 injured. I waited for the phone to ring, forgetting about the cell tower being shut off. No incoming or out going calls in the area, for fear it may set off a bomb. All of the people my husband and I knew in that area, were they okay?  Were they near the bomb? Many of the people we know were working at the finish line.  Either they are on the media bridge, or they are assisting runners through the finish chutes, or they are commentating for the news.  No word.  I could only pray.
 
I was 2 hours away,and even if I could get there, where would I park? What would I be able to do?  The first thing I did do when I first heard of the the tragedy was pray.  And I prayed to Our Father. 
 
Matthew 6: 9-15 
 
Who else?
 
Our Father, my father, I am his child.  I seek refuge and safety.
 
William Richard and his wife, Jane, of Dorchester, MA, had brought their kids to watch the Boston Marathon. It was a beautiful sunny day.  Perfect spectating weather, since it was 65 degrees and there was a nice breeze.  A joyous occasion, watching the marathon. Similar to my what husband and I have done when our children were small, bringing them to one of the greatest sporting events in the world.  To walk up and down Boylston Street cheering on the finishers.  To have a treat of ice cream or hot dog. To enjoy all of the friendly commotion.
 
The first bomb went off. William and Denise headed their children away from the explosion as quickly as they could, only to go head straight into the second explosion 10 seconds later. The Richard’s would have devastating effects.  Their youngest son, 8 year old Martin, would perish, his sister, Jane would lose her leg and their mom, Jane, would have a brain injury. 
 
There is a picture of little Martin with a poster he made for his schoolwork.  It reads “No more hurting people”.  Underneath he wrote “PEACE”.
 
Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread...
 
I whispered it over and over, my lips dry. I felt panic stricken.
 
Dear God, My Father who art in heaven, please be with this family. Please bless Martin’s father. Please protect his family.  Above all Lord, please keep his heart pure from “pain and evil”. Please let him love...
 
After I cried upon hearing about little Martin, I was still saying the Our father.
 
Then it struck me...
 
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we also have forgiven those who trespass against us.”...
 
FORGIVEN!  Oh gosh, I haven’t even thought about forgiving the person who did this. I had been praying the prayer and pleading for safety for all I know and the ones I didn’t know. Above all, the Richard family.
 
 
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
 
Sometimes forgiving is terribly difficult.  Especially, when something like this hits so close to home.
 
I pray for all of us, to forgive.  I especially pray for love and for what little Martin’s hope: PEACE.
 
I am still learning how to pray. Yes, even after all these years of attending church and worshipping Jesus, after so many bible studies,  I am finally learning how to pray. As many of my prayers are self serving and self centered.  But as I continue to pray and recite the Disciples prayer, Matthew 6:11 – “Give us our daily bread”. Give me and those who are around me what they need today, be it forgiveness, love above all Lord, please give us our daily “bread’.  I am learning to bring my daily needs to the Lord.  And I pray that those 176 people who were injured in the bombing have their daily needs met. 
 
1 Corinthians 13:13  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

The Faith of American Idol Scotty McCreery

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“I have to thank the Lord first, He’s the One that got me here!” was the first response of 17 year old Scotty McCreery when he won Season 10 of American Idol.  Scotty, who was never in the bottom three all season has been quite vocal about his faith.

People of faith are no strangers on American Idol.  Almost every season there are artists who are quite outspoken about their faith.   Jordin Sparks sang regularly in her church, Calvary Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona.  Jason Castro and Chris Sleigh, both contestants who were known for their hair now perform almost exclusively in churches.

In season 8 of American Idol two worship leaders and Adam Lambert were up against each other in the final weeks.  Danny Gokey, was a worship leader at Faith Builders Church in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Gokey finished third and to the surprise of many Chris Allen, who was a worship leader  in his church beat out Adam Lambert that year.

It should come as no surprise that so many Idols are from the church, as the church has consistently filled the ranks of American popular music.   Since the early days of rock and roll the church has provided a fresh crop of singers.  From the spirituals of the slaves, to Elvis Presley who learned to sing in a small Assembly of God church in Mississippi, to Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin who had preachers for fathers to Bono from U2 who has been clear and active in speaking of his faith the church has continued to produce a fresh crops of singers.  Scotty is no exception to this and has sung in his own church, First Baptist in Garner, North Carolina. Prior to winning Idol Scotty was active sharing his faith and went on mission trips with his church.

On Scotty McCreery’s American Idol page he lists his favorite quote as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”   When Scotty sang ‘Gone’ and hopped off the stage Steven Tyler told him, “Scotty my man, you know up until now, you've been a Puritan, but I swear to God I saw you dance with the devil tonight!” To which Scotty replied, “I love Jesus!”  Randy told him later, “I don’t know about that dancing with the devil thing!”  Under Scotty’s Q & A on the American Idol page when asked, “What was the proudest moment of your life outside of American Idol?” Scotty responded, “Letting Christ in to my heart.”

A few ladies that I know from church, Calvary Chapel in Uncasville, told me they want their daughters to marry Scotty.  Why not, he’s the whole package. Young, a good guy, soon most likely to be rich, comes from a strong family and has a bright future in front of him.  Some people are wondering however what’s going on with him and Lauren Alainia, his competitor right down to the wire. His statement that he and Lauren would be together for a long time. Him saying, “Baby I love you!” when winning the competition. She kissing him profusely upon his winning the competition have people talking.  All of that for another day.  Scotty has won it and attributes it to God. 

The Idol Tour with the top 11 contestants hits the Mohegan Sun, Saturday, September 3 with other New England stops in Providence, Worchester, Manchester, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine.  New England loves American Idol!   

This article was origainlly written for and appeared in New London Patch on May 26, 2011

http://newlondon.patch.com/blog_posts/the-faith-of-american-idol-scotty-mccreery


avid Wilkerson, Founder of Successful Drug Program, Dies; Legacy Lives On

Strolling through the Crystal Mall Food Court in Waterford, Connecticut on any given Friday, Saturday or Sunday you can buy custom hand-made jewelry from the girls of Teen Challenge New England.  The girls of Teen Challenge aren’t necessarily teens, and are as likely to be forty as eighteen.   They are all residents, or staff comprised primarily of past residents, of Teen Challenge New England, and all the profits from jewelry sales support the ministry of Teen Challenge in New England.

Teen Challenge is a faith-based drug, alcohol and life controlling issues residential program being described as the “oldest, largest, most successful program of its kind in the world.”  Today it boasts 195 centers in the states and 550 around the world. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, Teen Challenge has an unprecedented cure rate of 86% seven years after completing the program.

Teen Challenge began when David Wilkerson, a young Pentecostal preacher from rural Pennsylvania, was following the story of the trial of seven gang members in New York City charged with murder.  Burdened by a desire to help them and lead them to faith in Christ, Wilkerson headed to the New York courtroom and pleaded with the judge to let him talk to the gang members. The judge refused, Wilkerson was almost arrested, but continued to feel like there was something he should do.  He would return to New York frequently over the next few years.

In 1958, at 26 year old Wilkerson started Teen Challenge in an attempt to get New York youth off of drugs, out of addiction and transforming them through the power of Christ into men and women who would be assets to society.  One of his first converts was Nicky Cruz, a leader of the Mau Maus in Brooklyn.  When Wilkerson first preached to Cruz on the streets, rather than converting Cruz publicly slapped Wilkerson.  When Wilkerson returned for another preaching engagement in a boxing arena, Cruz showed up with some of the Mau Maus seeking to teach Wilkerson a lesson. Rather than disturbing the meeting , Cruz and some of the gang members converted and the Teen Challenge story began. Cruz has since gone on to be Teen Challenge staff, a youth evangelist and popular author.

Wilkerson wrote a book, “The Cross and the Switchblade” in 1963 that recounts the story of Cruz, the gangs and Teen Challenge. The book continues to sell briskly and according to Amazon has sold over 14 million copies.  On April 27th, David Wilkerson at age 71 died when his car ran head on with a truck in Texas. His wife sitting next to him in the car survived.

Teen Challenge is not without local stories and local alumni. John Harris of Lyme, a Teen Challenge graduate and later staff at Teen Challenge New Haven says, “Most would think that growing up in Lyme, CT is a blessing, and it was for the most part. But the influence of small town parties and the access to any kind of drug imaginable almost killed me.  I only met Pastor Dave a few times, but each time was a memory I will never forget. After over 20 years of drug use and addiction, the world had all but given up on me, but this ministry that was birthed from his passion to reach out to people that society threw away saved my life. In just 12 months I went from a broken soul facing time in prison to a man with a life time ahead of him. Because of Dave I have been sober for 13 years, served in full time ministry for seven years, got ordained, restored my relationship with my family, and married the most beautiful woman in the world. All because Pastor David Wilkerson cared about people.”  Quite a legacy!

To learn more about David Wilkerson and Teen Challenge visit:  http://teenchallengeusa.com/   or the church he founded in Times Square, New York  http://www.tscnyc.org/

 This blogpost was originally writte for and appeared in New London Patch

http://newlondon.patch.com/blog_posts/faith-leader-david-wilkerson-founder-of-successful-drug-program-dies-legacy-lives-on-locally


Christians in the Super Bowl (Read, Listen & Links)

My wife asked me who the Christians were on the Super Bowl teams. I put this together for her, but you get to look in!  How good a deal is that!?! So here you go! There are a load of athletes that love Jesus.  Here's a list and brief bio on some of those in this year's game. Which, regardless of you were screaming for (and the game was a screamer!) it was one of the best Super Bowl games in LONG time!

The HAIR GUY!  Troy Polamalu

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Palamalu told CBN, "I think that what Jesus brings to my life is peace in whatever happens in my life. Whether I face a huge injury, whether my career ends tomorrow, whether I make a bad play and I'm criticized by everybody. To accept whatever Will that He brings into my life, and to deal with it, and have Him deal with it for me"

STEELERS PUNTER: Daniel Sepulveda...

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...comes form Baylor University, the same college David Crowder attended when He helped start University Baptist Church. Sepulveda, speaking of rival quarterback Kurt Warner said, "Every time I hear Kurt Warner talking about his faith, I'm saying 'Yeah, give it to them.' It inspires me to hear guys like him who are willing to share. The joy of the Lord is on them. He's not on my team, but we're on the same team all the time."

RUNNING BACK Mewelde Moore... Mewelde moore 

started playing when he was a senior in high school. Going into Super Bowl week he said, "I want to give God the glory this week, not man!"

 

DEFENSIVE END Aaaron Smith

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said that recently the book,"The Samson Syndrome" has really spoken to him as he is battling along with his son, Elijah who is five years old and has leukemia.

DEFENSIVE END Nick Eason...

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when asked by reporters the key to success, he answered, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him would not perish, but have eternal life!"

CORNERBACK Anthony Madison...

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..says, "Let me tell you, God is so good. He has blessed me beyond my imagination. I personally would never have thought that I would be here at this time, considering the things that I have been through in this game."

From the team I wanted to to win, the Arizona Cardinals (although, why is a desert team called the cardinals?) comes:

WIDE RECEIVER Anquan Boldin

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Of his faith, Boldin says, "That's just who I am; that's just my faith. No matter what goes on in my life -- surgeries, injuries, hard times or whatever, I'm a man of faith and I believe that's one of the reasons I am here today.. My faith is what keeps me grounded."

And then of course there is Kurt Warner

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Here's some material that is based upon his book "All Things Are Possible." 

"It's been called the "greatest single-season sports story in history!" The St. Louis Rams began 1999 with the worst record of any NFL team in the 90s. At the end of the year, they were competing for the Super Bowl. Even more remarkable was the Cinderella story behind their superstar, Kurt Warner. Just five years earlier, desperate for money to support his wife and children, Warner had worked the night shift at a supermarket--stocking shelves for minimum wage. Now, as the Rams' starting quarterback, he led the team all the way through their "miracle season" to the pinnacle of professional football. There were more than 72,000 fans in the Georgia Dome and a staggering 800 million watching on television. With two minutes and five seconds left in a tied game, Warner threw the touchdown pass that earned him the title "MVP--Most Valuable Player" and "Super Bowl Champion."

It was like a real-life fairy tale, a dream come true. But Warner didn't seem too surprised:

"I believe that the Lord has a plan for each of us that's better than anything we can imagine--even if that plan isn't obvious to us at every stage. He prepared me for this over a long period of time--in lower-profile locker rooms and the grocery store and in Europe, through all the personal tragedies and in spite of the people who doubted me along the way," Warner explained. "Whether I'm a Super Bowl Champion or a regular guy stocking groceries at the Hy-Vee, sharing my faith and glorifying Jesus is the central focus of my time on this earth. And the fact that I now have a podium, I believe, is no coincidence. I want to be a role model for Christ in everything that I do. Living my life for Him and showing people the beauty of that reality is my mission in life."

Kurt admits that glorifying God hasn't always been his priority:

"Before I could devote my life to Jesus and start living my life for Him, I had to go through a lot of personal struggles, including a period a few years ago where I got a little caught up in things that aren't important--fame, money, lust...."

Warner suffered a series of disastrous setbacks in his career. He faced financial problems, family problems, even the sudden and tragic death of his wife's parents. All the hurts and the heartbreak caused Kurt to take a good hard look at his life--and what was missing from it. "Growing up I'd always put my life on one side and my relationship with God on the other. I knew God was there, but I only called upon Him when I needed Him or felt compelled to thank Him. Eventually, I realized I needed to live every day for Him."

Warner says he's grateful he had the opportunity to get his priorities straight before he experienced his NFL success. "I realize now that I would not have been prepared for my big chance had it happened before it did." Kurt's faith in Christ has given him the peace and strength he's needed to handle all the challenges that have come his way.

Immediately after the Rams' victory at the Super Bowl, an interviewer began, "Kurt, first things first--tell me about the final touchdown pass to Isaac."

Kurt responded, "Well, first things first, I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above--thank You, Jesus!" As he later explained, Kurt meant no offense or disrespect to the reporter.

"I just wanted to use the opportunity to point out that the Lord does come first in my life, and I'm not shy about sharing that with the world. I'm a man who is driven by faith, and any power or peace I feel -- on the football field or otherwise--is because of my faith and my relationship with Jesus."

The Bible says that "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9 NASB).

"Jesus changed my life, and He can change yours too," Kurt Warner says. If you want to experience the peace and joy that come from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you might pray Kurt's prayer:

"Lord Jesus, You know everything about me. Please forgive me for all the wrong things I've ever said or done. I know that You died for my sins and rose from the dead. Please come into my life and be my Lord. Help me to follow You always. Amen."

Based on the book All Things Possible © 2000 by Kurt Warner with Michael Silver. Used by permission from Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.


I Have A Dream

King[1] Martin Luther King gave this 18 minute address in 1963. Weighing in at 18 minutes, it is defintely one of the most powerful speeches of the 20th century.

I first heard the entire speech when I was in college. Beofre that I had only heard the famous clips.  It is said that Dr King went into the podium without notes and only a sense of what it was that he wanted to say.

Do yourself a favor and listen to a piece of history. Read the speech with some commentary by Richard Abnes here: http://richardabanes.wordpress.com/


A Song from Acoustijah in Israel

From my friends Anthony & Irene about the recent lobbing of bombs into Israel's villages, towns and cities. The second part of he song is taken from Psalm 91. They were able to perform it on live TV on a program tat is the equivalent of Good Morning America and on live radio. The popularity of the song is spreading.Here's what they say about themselves:

My wife and I moved to Beer Sheva so that I could study for a MA in Bible. We're Americans, and we love Israel. Who knows how long we'll be here, but we've put together a few songs in Hebrew that you might like. We've met some good musicians along the way too, and they've joined us now and then.

Acoustiyah is a name a friend of ours made up for us. We think it sounds cool. We hope you like it too.

Shalom and enjoy the music.

Contact us: acoustiyah (at) gmail (dot) com

You can also find them on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/acoustiyah

The song and video is posted on in Hebrew and with English subtitles on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/user/acoustiyah

Send all your friends to Youtube and let's "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem" Psalm 122:6


Ryan Griggs on the Easter Service Program

RyanRyan Griggs, who has been in England working on bringing the Gospel into schools will return to be with us for our Easter service. On his way here on Thursday, he missed his connection in Paris, as there was a airport workers strike going on. Delta Airlines put him up in a hotel for the night and picked him up in the morning (Friday) so hopefully he will be here Friday afternoon. Keep praying! He will be part of the worship team for a song, as well as performing one of his own songs. Be sure to pray for friends, family and workers and bring them to the Easter service to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. The Life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We'll have plenty of free literature for those who are seeking to know Jesus. We again have copies of the "The Case for Easter" for those seeking to understand what the resurrection of Jesus Christ means. Pray and bring a friend!


Easter Comes Early This Year

Flyer1_5 The next time it will be a day earlier (March 22) will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now).

Easter this year is: Sunday, March 23, 2008, as you may know Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after the Spring Equinox (which is March 20).
This dating of Easter is based on the lunar calendar that Hebrew people used to identify Passover which is why it moves around on our Roman calendar. Found out a couple of things you might be interested in!

Based on the above Easter can actually be one day earlier, March 22nd.; but, that is pretty rare. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see the rest of our lives! And only the most elderly of our population have ever seen it this early (95 years old or above!). And none of us have ever or will ever see it a day earlier!
Here are the facts: The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be in the year 2228 (220 years from now).

The last time it was this early was in 1913 (so if you’re 95 or older you are the only ones that were around for that!). The next time it will be a day earlier (March 22) will be in the year 2285 (277 years from now). The last time it was on March 22 was in 1818. So no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year!


Larry Norman Is Home With Jesus

Larry_norman_5 The first meeting we ever had in our main sanctuary was an evening meeting with Larry Norman. People got saved that night. The place wasn't even finished (as you can see from the picture) but the building inspector let us meet that night. 

We've had him at the church several times performing and just attending. We arranged a pretty interesting tour of some of the Universities in New England with him and one of our church house bands that included Jeff Lecee on bass and Damon DeChaplain on drums.  We did an outreach that time at Battell Chapel at Yale and on one of the quads at Brown Universtiy. Beth Wacome (Keck) (another great friend!) opened up for him at Yale and his brother Charlie (who writes below giving info about Larry's death) was there as well that night. We had some trouble at Brown with the administration preaching the Gospel outside, but it all worked out and Larry did great.

Larry is considered the "Father of Christian Rock." Read the wikipedia entry about him here.  We'll have to play some of his music on the radio station this, so listen for that. I'm sure John Fogg will do a tribute to him.  Larry will be missed. He was a real innovator. Today Christian rock is pretty normal to a lot of Christian's, but Larry really was a forerunner in bringing rock to the church.  Listen to a powerful song and Larry reflecting on his own death by watching the video here. (This video features stills of Larry and other Christian artists that were contemporaries with Larry.)

Here's the note about Larry's death from his brother Charlie

Hello everybody.

Our friend and my wonderful brother Larry passed away at 2:45 Sunday morning. Kristin and I were with him, holding his hands and sitting in bed with him when his heart finally slowed to a stop. We spent this past week laughing, singing, and praying with him, and all the while he had us taking notes on new song ideas and instructions on how to continue his ministry and art.

Several of his friends got to come and visit with him in the last couple of weeks and were a great source of help and friendship to Larry. Ray Sievers, Derek Robertson, Mike Makinster, Tim and Christine Gilman, Matt and Becky Simmons, Kerry Hopkins, Allen Fleming and a few more. Thank you guys. Larry appreciated your visits very much. And he greatly appreciated the thoughts, wishes, support and prayers that came from all of you Solid Rock friends on a daily basis. Thank you for being part of his small circle of friends over the years. Yesterday afternoon he knew he was going to go home to God very soon and he dictated the following message to you while his friend Allen Fleming typed these words into Larry's computer:

I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home.

My brother Charles is right, I won't be here much longer. I can't do anything about it. My heart is too weak. I want to say goodbye to everyone. In the past you have generously supported me with prayer and finance and we will probably still need financial help.

My plan is to be buried in a simple pine box with some flowers inside. But still it will be costly because of funeral arrangement, transportation to the gravesite, entombment, coordination, legal papers etc. However money is not really what I need, I want to say I love you.

I'd like to push back the darkness with my bravest effort. There will be a funeral posted here on the website, in case some of you want to attend. We are not sure of the date when I will die. Goodbye, farewell, we will meet again.

Goodbye, farewell, we'll meet again
Somewhere beyond the sky.
I pray that you will stay with God
Goodbye, my friends, goodbye.

Larry

Continue reading "Larry Norman Is Home With Jesus" »


How Jesus Saved the Marriage of Alan and Denise Jackson

Alan_jackson180_2 Country singer Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, says:  “Yes, we have wealth, fame, fortune; from the outside we have it all.  But all that stuff does not bring joy, contentment, happiness or fulfillment.”  You can see their house in the video below called, "You Can Live in a House without Curtains," with lyrics that say, "but you can't hide the heartache inside."

They knew something of heartache.  They were high school sweethearts and married young. Alan became rich and famous and cheated on her.  In 1997 they separated.  But Jesus was going to come into the situation and change everything because Jesus is great at coming into hopeless situations and turning them around. And he did.  The result was a restored marriage, a new life and now a new book by Denise called, "It's All About Him (Jesus!)"

Here's a snippet from and Associated Press article about their marriage:             

"NEW YORK (AP) -- Denise Jackson knew that her marriage to Alan Jackson wasn't perfect. She was too needy and insecure in the relationship, and he was on the road a lot, becoming one of country's biggest superstars. Denise Jackson's marriage to Alan Jackson was crumbling until she turned to God. Still, she wasn't prepared for the shock she got in 1998, shortly after the birth of their third child, when Jackson -- her sweetheart since their teen years -- told her that he didn't want to be in the marriage anymore. Hurt and disillusioned, she tried everything to get him back, and turned to prayer.

A revelation came one day when a friend told her she wouldn't pray for Alan Jackson to come back, but instead, would pray for Denise Jackson to become the woman that God intended her to be. From that day on, Denise Jackson began to reassess the role God played in her life -- and, instead of focusing on how to repair her relationship with her husband, put her efforts into rebuilding her relationship with God. In the end, she says, becoming closer to God helped her become closer to her husband -- and save her marriage."

Read an interview with Denise and Alan Jackson with Alan singing the song he wrote for his wife's book, "It's all about Him!"  Which is really cool, because his wife said it 'used to be all about Alan, and now it's all about Him (Jesus!)"

Here's a video of their home. Enjoy!


The Life of My Friend Rick Hathaway

Dick_and_debbie_hathawayRick Hathaway is my friend. He was my pastor and we've worked together on the same church team.

Rick has written a book on the legacy of faith that came from his father. He has put samples of his book on his website www.rickhathawayonline.com  Go and check it out. Once you read the first section you'll be hooked!

For those of you that have attended Calvary Chapel of Southeastern Connecticut, see if you recognize the building in the wedding picture.


Church Volunteer Takes Down Shooter

Jeanne_assam_2 Jeanne Assam said, "It seemed like it was me, the gunman, and God."  Assam, who has some law enforcement experience and a weapon of her own, had been fasting that day and felt a need to be vigilant about more security at the church that day. She was a volunteer on their security team. 

She a said, "I give the credit to God. And I say that very humbly. God was with me and the whole time I was behind cover -- this has got to be God, because of the firepower that he had vs. what I had.I did not run away and I didn't think for a minute to run away, I just knew that I was given the assignment to end this before it got too much worse. I just prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me." Watch a video of her telling her story here.

Matthew Murray, the shooter had a high powered rifle, one thousand rounds of ammunition and smoke bombs when he entered New Life Church. Earlier that day he shoot and killed two leaders at Youth with a Mission (YWAM) outside of Denver. Murray, a few years ago had been part of YWAM and had written threatening letters to them.

Here are some articles of interest:

* John Umland, one of the elders at our church muses on security carrying weapons to church here

* For the press report from Youth with a Mission in Denver, as well as pictures of the victims click here

* To read the press release from New Life Church in Colorado Springs click here

* From the Denver Post "Killer Motivated by Revenge"  It is said that he hated Christians.

* Gunman sent hate mail to Youth with a Mission from Rocky Mountain News

* WorldNet Daily advocates shooting back

* Security Guard Prayed for Divine Guidance Before Shooting Gunman

* Matthew Murray posted violent threats towards Christians to a website between the killings at the Youth with a Mission base and New Life Church

* Christianity Today article on security at mega-churches

* AP Article on US churches that provide security armed and unarmed

* Here's Odegard's blogpost, "Defending the Church Against Maniacs, Crooks and Others"

* Church Shooter Made Internet Threats Against Christians

* Why Your Church Needs Armed Security a post from Steve Sjogren

* Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition Cal Thomas column


Christians in the Workplace

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As we have been going through Genesis and the 'origin of all things' we encountered the origin of work. Somehow work gets separated from spiritual life. There is a lot of confusion about work and its place in the Bible and the Christian experience. The bottom line is God made us to work and it is good!

Some good friends of mine, Gerry and Barbara Lachance, are making some efforts to bring together spiritual life and work. And they're having some success at it! I've known them for a along time. I 've worked and served with them in a variety of situations. They are good people and they are good at what they do. Here's a little introduction to them where they tell you themselves what they are up to. Check out their website and if you see them around be sure to introduce yourself.

Gerry & Barbara Lachance have a passion to see Transformation in the workplace. This is their mandate from God. So this passion has led them to start a new company called ROi Leadership International New England and ROi Equipping. The company offers solutions that will transform people. They bring solutions through training, consulting, coaching, and strategic alliances Their mission is "Building people in order to build business." The sense is that as people change, learn to understand one another, work with ethical behavior , companies will go from success to significance and this increase ultimately will affect the bottom line..

Barbara and Gerry want to see the mindmolders of society (business, government, church, family, medial, science, and the arts) transformed.

Here's what they say about their work:

Just as ROi Leadership is a company created to influence the corporate world, ROi Equipping is established to influence the Church world. ROi Equipping offers Training Seminars in all the areas of what it means to be a Christian in the Marketplace. Both Barbara and Gerry have spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of Marketplace Ministries.

The obvious meaning of ROi is return on investment but it is also the French word for King. They believe that we are all called (men and women) to be kings in the marketplace where we bring the church on an every day basis.

"And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen " Rev 1:6 (NKJV)

Scripture starting in the book of Genesis talks about us (the church) taking dominion. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Gen 1:28 (NKJV) Then the Scriptures go on to say, "before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; Gen 2:5 (NKJV)

So what is spoken about in these two Scriptures is that we are to take dominion, and we are to till or work the ground. The interesting thing is that the word for till or work is AVADAH in the Hebrew and it is the same word for worship. So our work was always intended to be worship. When I go to work I am going to my place of worship. So we (the church) are Christians from Sunday to Sunday including the five workdays.

Gerry and Barbara’s goal is to see every person whether they are a housewife to the CEO of a company understand their role of ministry in the place where God has put them. We are all called to be Kings.

Check out thier web presece www.roili-ne.com


Thanks! Veterans Day 2007

Vetrans_pic Hey Thanks!!!  This weekend is Veteran's Day.  Not only do we get to honor our veterans, but we get a day off!

Church was a lot of fun today, with special guest artists Maeve, who just seem to get better and better.  They sold all of the CDs they brought of their new project, produced by Nico Boesten. They were telling me today that their newest offering to come out in the beginning of 2008 is a Charlie Peacock project, so that should be a LOT of fun.

We talked about work today and towards the end we had all of our veterans stand up. And we had a LOT Of them between the four services! We had people from every branch of the armed forces. The coolest thing was the spontaneous applause, which really couldn't be stopped. It went on and on! It was so encouraging to be able to say thanks and honor those that have served us. So although we already said it once, I'd like to say it again. Thanks!!!  And thanks again!


RACE: The Power of an Illusion

Race_power_of_an_illusion_2"Race: The Power of an Illusion" was the name of three part series on PBS, produced by California Newsreel in 2003.  The premise, and what they do a decent job proving it, is to show that there is no biological basis for race, but rather race is a social construct. People assume that because there are visible differences between people that there are huge biological differences, thus dividing us into various "races."  It is simply not true. The Bible alludes to this in the Book of Genesis an dis very specific in the book of Acts where they apostle Paul declares - two thousand years before modern biology - "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." Acts 17:26 

The Bible teaches us that all of humanity came from common ancestors, Adam and Eve. Although this concept has been balked at throughout history DNA is beginning to show the common ancestry of all human beings.  1999 news magazines began to publish articles about "Mitochondrial Eve" which represents "that woman whose mitochondrial DNA (with mutations) exists in all the humans now living on Earth."  The implications of both the television research special and contemporary discovers reinforce what we already know form the Bible, that we came from common descendants and all people are created in the image of God.

Human differences come from culture (ethnicity) and not biology. If you needed an organ transplant, it would matter little whether than organ came from someone from Asia, the Middle East, Africa or North America. Human beings are largely the same, except for minor differences in appearance.  Scientists have found that if you take people from anywhere in the world and match them with each other the difference between those two people wold be 0.2%. And the major "visible" differences (skin color, eye shape, hair) amounts to about 6% of the 0.2 percent.  People are people, created in the Image of God!

The concepts of the 'races" as we know it, comes more from the wickedness of the human heart (which always likes to think itself superior to 'somebody' else) and Darwinian evolution and social evolution than from known modern science. Evolution attempted in Darwin's day to show how the far the different "races" were from their original ancestors: apes. This viewpoint has lead to horrible human rights issues and even Hitler attempting to grow a "super-race" purified of all elements he found distasteful.  Moving away form the Bible has its consequences.

God loves all people, although not everybody loves God. This is our mission. To remind people (or tell them for the first time) that they are valuable, made in God's Image and that God loves them and does have a wonderful plan for their life!

The next time you find somebody or a group of people you don't like, remember you are related to them somewhere down the line!  That's probably why Jesus reminded us to love our neighbors as ourselves!

   


"It's hard to get into Hollywood and it's even harder to get out"

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That's what a friend of mine told me this week.  It is hard to get out of Hollywood and it's hard to get Hollywood out of you, once it's there.  Another friend told me last week, "Nashville has changed  more people than people have changed Nashville."  Those cities have the ability to devour Christians (and families) alive, but Christians should be able to thrive in these environments, especially seeing whereas they played a major role in creating the present expressions of pop culture.

"You let loose, the piano was talking, the drums walking. People were shouting all over the place. And if you didn't understand what it was, you thought you were in a rock and roll concert. That's the way the black Gospel was when I was a boy.

We called the church the sanctified church. He sings, 'I'm so glad Jesus set em free, I'm so glad Jesus set me free, singing Glory, Hallelujah, Jesus set me free!

Then they had that holler (he hollers) You know I loved that Woooo... they were just screaming, I said 'My Lord.' It made my big toe shoot up in my boot!"  That's how Little Richard, born in 1932 and one of the originators of rock and roll described the church services of his youth.

Quincy_jones Quincy Jones, who has been nominated for 25 Grammy awards and the producer of Thriller, the best selling album ever had this to say about the origins of rock and roll, "You're talking about music that was bred in Africa to the Black Church and over to Gospel, which turned into blues and jazz and country music. And it cross pollinates and that's the way it ought to be. That's how it started."

The music today we know as rock and roll, rhythm and blues and soul find their origin in the music of the church.  Tom_petty Everybody knows it, even those with no apparent connection to the church or Gospel music. Tom Petty speaking of the roots of rock and roll said, "You know rhythm and blues was a big part of it, but then you start mixing in the country, the good country, really swinging country and Gospel, can't forget Gospel."

So many in popular music started in the church and had the roots of their music based in the church including Whitney Houston, who was raised a Baptist, but had some exposure to the Pentecostal church as well. When she was a young girl she was a soloist in the Jr Gospel Choir at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. Her godmother is Aretha Franklin, another great and influential artist with her roots and beginning in the church.  Although the church birthed the genres and became the platform for so many young and new artists, it seemed like the church was not able to keep them, and for many they were not able to stand the wiles of the world on their own.

James_brown Names of great and influential artists that started in the church and had the church as their early influences include James Brown, the godfather of soul and the hardest working man in show business. James Brown started in 1955 with Bobby Byrd's group The Gospel Starlighters.  Dionne Warwick grew up in the church, her father was a promoter of Gospel singing groups. She originally sang Gospel including at an early performance at the Apollo Theater.

Curtis Mayfield, author of "People Get Ready" and later "Superfly" had his start and early influence from the church. He began singing in church when he was 10 and started a band called the Impressions with fellow church members that had a series of hits including the song "Amen" which the Impressions sang at his funeral in January of 2000.

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A whole host of early rock artists had their start and influence from the music of the church. Jerry Lee Lewis grew up learning to play the piano with his cousins Mickey Gilley and evangelist Jimmy Swaggert. Jerry Lee attended an Assembly of God school where his mother was sure all he ever would do was sing songs for the Lord.

Elvis Presley, the best selling artist of all time had his start in the Assembly of God church and never forgot his roots, although he struggled immensely between the worlds.

The list goes on and on... we'll cover some more and talk about their lives in future posts.

Istock_000002655417xsmallThe big question is why can't the church hold on to her children?  Is it that there is a hostile relationship between the entertainment industries and the church? Is it that there is no agreement, only distance between the church and the entertainment industry? Are all entertainers doomed to living without a church to attend or to be part of?  Let it rip!


Post # 100 "I Love Tammy Faye Bakker!"

Tammy_faye_giTammy Faye was a hope broker. She is a hero and a role model for me. I can only dream that I could help as many people as she has with her (to quote the Charlotte Observer obituary) "can-do Christian cheer."

A lot of Christians made her life miserable and left her when she was down. But she seemed to move right past it. It was interesting to me that when she died her family contacted Larry King. He had an awful lot of respect for her and let her talk freely about anything she wanted to talk about.

I have to admit that at one time I almost became a Tammy Faye detractor myself, until it occurred to me that I WAS Tammy Faye. Male perhaps, but Tammy Faye nevertheless. It also occurred to me that it wouldn't be hard to imagine having someone like Tammy Faye as part of your own family. I'm willing to go out on a limb and say most families have someone like Tammy Faye in their extended circle.  Somebody that speaks their mind, but embraces all people. Somebody that is brash but loves everybody and loves them all the same.  Somebody that wears outrageous clothes, hairdos and styles.  Somebody that loves to laugh and  goes to the extremes. Somebody that loves life and lived it!

A few years ago I read an interview with Tammy's son Jamie (who goes by Jay,) who heads up a wild ministry to folks on the extreme edge. Jamie is on the edge himself. At the time his mom was involved in some pretty peculiar work for the former wife of one of television's best known evangelists. She was on the WB reality show "The Surreal Life" with Vanilla Ice and former adult porn star Ron Jeremy.  Her son Jamie - who was embarrassed by his mom - told of trying to convince her that people were watching the show and laughing at her. She told him she didn't care, that she loved these people, that they were her friends, and that Jesus loved them and she wanted to be the one to tell them. Jamie Bakker said after listening to his mom explain it all to him she went from being an embarrassment to him to being his hero. That's when she became a hero to me as well.

Around the same time and after the release of the documentary "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" which chronicled her life, she became a sensation in the gay community. That raised my eyebrows, so I started to read about what her role was there. Turns out they were inviting her to preach! But mostly she just loved on them. She preached at AIDS events and became loved by gay men across the nation. I read one of her sermons to these gatherings and it could have just as easily come across Billy Graham's pulpit. She reinforced how much she loved these guys, how much Jesus loved them, how much God despised sin, and how she was pleased to give a kiss and a motherly pull on the cheek to everyone of them. You go girl! I cried after reading the accounts and asked God to help me love everybody as much as Tammy Faye did. Maybe someday I'll love people with the fervency Tammy Faye had for people. Maybe someday. Maybe.

Tammy Faye grew up in northern Michigan in a family of eight kids in a house without running water. Her and Jim were Assembly of God kids that met in Bible College and wanted to share the message of Jesus far and wide. They started out doing puppets, which they eventually did for a budding television program that would become known as the 700 Club. They started out small and grew huge.

It might be fair to say that success became their downfall, except that they didn't stay down. Both Tammy Faye and Jim bounced back with a love for people and a message of hope for the ordinary person. 

I had the privilege of meeting Jim Bakker a few years ago right after he got out of jail and wrote a book called, "I Was Wrong."  He was broken, sincere, kind, gentle and had all the time in the world for me. I was embarrassed, humiliated and felt a degree of self-scorn for not being a person that had the same outflow of love as he had.  I wish I would have met Tammy Faye. 

Tammy Faye was at one of the local casinos not too long ago making an appearance and signing her book.  She did an interview with a local radio station, they loved it and said she was a blast, and the local newspaper made it sound like a not to be missed event. Lots of hugs, people thanking her, lots of tears, lots of encouragement, lots of talk about Jesus. People loved her and she loved people.

Tammy Faye was a hope broker.  People with broken lives were drawn to her. Gay men listened as she spoke about sin.  Larry King leaned over and listened to her every word over and over. After almost every Tammy Faye interview, he would say, "Amazing!" She was a hero to her son. A broken lady that loved Jesus and moved through every difficulty in her life, while she continued to try and draw people closer to God.

If at the end of your life the Charlotte Observer - which was harsh to the Bakkers at many junctures in their life - says of you that you carried a message of "can-do Christian cheer" than we'll be able to say that was a life well lived.  You go sis!  I love you and am proud to be your brother!!

P.S. I am so glad I didn't do post number 100 on the midnight release of the new Harry Potter book - which I originally planned to do.  This is SO much more important than Harry Potter could ever hope to be!

Cool slide show of her life click here

Watch her on Larry King by clicking here


If I Go to an Defective Church Am I an Defective Christian?

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The pope was once a boy. That's his picture.

I actively avoid criticizing other churches, particularly the church I grew up in. The Catholic Church. Besides I have a lot of friends that are in the Catholic Church, why would I want to pick a fight with them? I have other friends that fight the Catholic Church tooth and nail, but what's the point of fighting like that? Doesn't seem like much dialog takes place that way.

Then there is the issue of defending yourself. That usually is counter-productive as well.

Well, this week, the pope felt it necessary for some reason to declare that the "protestant churches" -which comes from the word protest, but that's all for another post- were 'defective' and that other Christian denominations (expressions) were not true churches. He asserted that Christ only established "one" church on  earth. Want to guess which one it is?  Hmmm...  I know he is the pope, but one time he was a boy. I have his picture to prove it.

So, what then is a church, if not a gathering of believers? 

I know that I'm a Christian. A dyed in the wool, baptized born-again.

So, my question is, "Am I a defective Christian because I'm not part of the Catholic Church?" Am I an inferior believer?  How about my friends that gather together? Should we be uptight about this declaration?

You know what?  I know I'm a true believer and I gather with true believers. I'm just not going to worry about it, and at least for now I don't feel much of a need to respond to it, except to yawn a bit.

But here's a little post-yawn commentary... Is the Catholic Church, the "one true church?"  Is the Protestant church, the right one? How about the Orthodox church?  What about the Evangelical Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Fundamental Church. Is he right that there is only one true church? Yes! The church that belongs to Jesus is the one true church. The Bible refers to this sometimes as 'the bride of Christ.'  It is an invisible movement made up of members from the Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Fundamental churches.

Is every Protestant a true believer? Nope. Is every member of the Pentecostal church a true believer? Nope. Is every member of the Catholic church a true believer?  Nope. You and I talk to people all the time that are members or have family members in the various movements that are definitely not true believers, just members.

Jesus knows who the true believers are. We don't. We'll definitely be in for some surprises in the end when it all becomes clear. I KNOW I belong to Jesus and there is no need to defend Jesus. I'm pretty sure he is OK with me connecting with other people that are known by Him as well.  There is One True Church and it is universal and invisible. There are Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Fundamentalists that make up the ranks. There are also members of those groups that are not part of the One True Church.

I'm not going to sweat it. If all this starts to bother my friends and folks start asking questions, I'll feel the need to clarify the issues. But until then, what's to worry about? I've got the real thing. Jesus Christ. Do You?


Billy Ray Cyrus, Hannah Montana's Dad, Learning from Paris Hilton & Lindsay Lohan

Billy_ray_and_montana_4As we sink deeper into the mire of the Christian gossip column... This just in: "Lindsay Lohan Finds God in Rehab, and is going to church." Or so says her dad, who is suing her mother for support after the breakup of their marriage. She says all he wants is his daughter's money. He says he just wants his investment. He has also been seen around the Hamptons showing up for photo-ops.

Lindsay Lohan's friends report that she will not be spending her 21st birthday at Pure in Vegas as originally planned, but will spend more time at the Promiseland Rehab in Malibu.  Are Paris Hilton and Linsey Lohan really finding God?  Maybe. Rehab is a great place to find God, and if you want the 12 Steps to really work, you need to bring God into the equation.

A lot of people don' t know that the original 12 Steps of AA came from the Bible and a Bible believing group, but that's fodder for another post on another day. However it shakes out, it tells us that people deep down inside know that they need God. Maybe when better times roll around they will forget the need they felt inside and feed their hunger another way, but people definitely have a God shaped hole. Pray for these girls. 

Or....  do like Billy Ray Cyrus, who tries to use the antics of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears as lessons for his own Hollywood daughter Hanna Montana.  Billy Ray became a Christian some years back and his kids are trying to serve the Lord as well. Here's some excepts from a recent article in People Magazine:

Billy Ray Cyrus is crossing his fingers that his daughter, "Hannah Montana" star Miley, won't go the way of Lindsay and Paris and Britney. He even shows her articles about the Hollywood troublemakers as cautionary tales.

Billy_ray_3_2 So far, so good.

"The biggest phenomenon in all this is that the kid's been able to keep her head on her shoulders," the 45-year-old country singer tells People magazine in its new issue. "She hasn't flipped out. I'm going to knock on wood."

He adds: "I pray every day she can stay on that path."

Cyrus, who recently completed a stint on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," co-stars with 14-year-old Miley on the hit Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana," about a country-girl-turned-pop-star who tries to keep her celebrity life a secret from her classmates.

Miley, who saw her "Hannah Montana" soundtrack go double platinum last year, is a daddy's girl at heart.

"We're really close," she says. "I feel like I can tell my dad anything. When we come home, we forget that we even work together and just hang out."

The picture above is of Billy Ray Cyrus with my son Stefan. Stefan is carrying his Tony Alva Skateboad, Billy Ray is carrying his guitar. They both have on "Rock tees." Stefan with Jimi Hendrix and Billy Ray with the Doors. Are those Christian groups?


Has Paris Hilton Found God?

Paris_hiton_and_bible_2_5Has this blog become a tabloid gossip column? That's the REAL question!

It's a blog about everyday interactions with God in daily life and popular culture. So, if somebody visible is talking about God it's fair game.

Prior to her sentencing Paris Hilton was spending a lot of time with her mother and seen around Los Angeles with a Bible under her arm. (The included picture is Paris carrying the books in L.A.) She also was carrying the book, "The Power of Now," a New Age tome on mysticism, integration and inter-personal relationships. Some think that carrying the books was just one more show, but hey, the Bible is the Bible. 

The Bible she is carrying looks like a stolen Gideon's Bible from a hotel room, but I'm sure the Gideon's aren't too bothered by stolen Bibles. Maybe they want people to take the Bibles.  Any Gideon's out there know the answer to that?  Maybe she got it from one of the Hilton family hotels which also include a book by Conrad Hilton, "Be My Guest" in each room. In any event, she has a Bible and has been carrying it around! Not to mention that Gideon Bibles include an invitation to receive Christ in them.

On Sunday Paris Hilton told Barbara Walters from jail, "I'm not the same person I was," she said. "I used to act dumb. It was an act. I am 26 years old, and that act is no longer cute. It is not who I am, nor do I want to be that person for the young girls who looked up to me. I know now that I can make a difference, that I have the power to do that. I have been thinking that I want to do different things when I am out of here. I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance." She continued by saying, "God,has released me."

I don't think that we should go around proclaiming Paris Hilton as the next evangelist, especially considering we don't even know what she means when she says "God." Even if she has found God, she has a long path in front of her. She certainly doesn't need to be spokesperson or authority on spiritual life. Whether she has truly turned to God or is in the searching and seeking stage this is a great time to pray for Paris Hilton, because let's be honest when was the last time you prayed for Paris Hilton.

What her interest in God, even if just for the moment, shows us is that people are hungry for reality, for something beyond themselves and that when everything else is taken away, we do know that there is a God.  Under it all everybody knows this.

Pray for her and know that people need God. We can be a lifeline and a connection to God for hungry souls.


Police: "We wish Jesus would solve more of these cases."

Jesus_inside_2 Confession is not only good for the soul, it's good for everybody.  After having a conversion to Jesus Christ, Michael Mohr, walked into a New York City Police station to confess that he strangled a homeless lady three years ago. He felt like that's what Jesus wanted him to do. The police chimed in by saying, "We wish Jesus would solve more of these."

Jesus still changes lives and moves us to do the right thing. Great story. 

Click here to read the story in the New York Daily Post.


Confessing Your Sins Online

Ive_screwed_up_webpageWho would have thought of it?  Somebody did, the folks at Flamingo Road Church.  We mentioned their website in our study of First John as we looked at what John had to tell us about the value of confessing our sin. We also talked about Donald Miller and his book Blue Like Jazz, where while in college they set up a confessional booth on campus. Not so students could confess their sins, but so the Christians could confess what lousy Christians they had been on campus. Confession is always good. 

Check out the news story CNN did on the church's website. It's a lot of fun. Click here to watch.

And of course don't miss the I've Screwed Up website. Maybe you have something you need to confess!  Click here.


Lots of Christians on American Idol

Chris_sligh_at_seacoast_church American Idol has had its share of Christian contestants on it. This season is no exception. Kind of a strange name for a show with a bunch of Christians on it, but they are there in abundance, including a worship leader at his local church. Chris Sligh.  Chris is an alumni of Bob Jones University (not your usual bastion of contemporary music) and the worship leader at Seacoast Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He also has his own Christian CD out with his band "Half Past Forever."  Chris sang songs by DC Talk and Mute Math on American Idol.

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Melinda_doolittle1 Melinda Doolittle attended a Christian College associated with Southern Baptist Convention and has sung backup with several Christian artists, including Anointed, Grammy winner Jonny Lang, Mandisa (who was previously on American Idol,) and CeCe Winans. Melinda has been really vocal about her faith on the program and has mentioned that she has her "Jesus Music" in her iPod. She mentioned Fred Hammond as being one of the inspirations that she is presently listening to.

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Jordin_sparks_2 17 year old Jordin Sparks is from Calvary Chapel in Glendale, Arizona. She has previously been quite vocal about her faith as well. She told the Gospel Music Association, "I want them (non-believers) to know that God loves them, Jesus died for them, and that God has a plan for their life. I want them to see and hear that being a Christian and singing about it isn't weird!"

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Phil_stacy Phil Stacey, before joining the Navy was a worship leader in his church associated with The Church of God.  He attended Lee University a Pentecostal denomination. Phil's father is a minster, as was his grandmother.

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Lakisha Jones this season has also been vocal about her faith. It has been a season with a lot of Christians with vibrant testimonies on the show. We'll see who wins later this week.


Who Would Have Thought Falwell & Larry Flynt Were Friends?

Teletubbie One of the big phrases being thrown around today is "being missional."  What's that mean?  It means that some people believe (rightly so I think) that we need to be engaged in the culture around us and not always on the attack. That We need to befriend people, listen to them, understand them. Who might these folks be?  Cool guys with cool glasses and non-religious speeches? How about Jerry Falwell?  He had a way of being friends with folks that radically disagreed with him. I wish I had known him personally. Someday.  Anyway here's a few quotes from folks that did know him, including Larry Flynt. Jesse Jackson also claimed him as a friend. This is especially interesting considering in the early 60's Falwell was an outspoken segregationist. Wow, can Jesus change people's thinking around? And our friendships!  There is no evidence he ever reconciled with the Tele-tubbies though. Oh well!

Rudy20giulianitto002092 "He was a man who set a direction. He was someone who was not afraid to speak his mind. We all have great respect for him ... he is a person who told you what he thought, and you knew where he stood." — Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

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"Over the years we became friends; sometimes we had polar opposite points of view. ... I have many fond memories of him. He leaves a great legacy of service and a great university behind. He's left his footprints in the sands of time." — The Rev. Jesse Jackson.

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Billy_graham "Jerry Falwell was a close personal friend for many years. We did not always agree on everything, but I knew him to be a man of God. His accomplishments went beyond most clergy of his generation. Some of my grandchildren have attended and currently attend Liberty University. He leaves a gigantic vacuum in the evangelical world." — Evangelist Billy Graham.

Larry_flynt_2 "My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, years after the trial, Jerry Falwell and I became good friends. ... I always appreciated his sincerity even though I knew what he was selling and he knew what I was selling." — Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt.


Evel Knievel Sparks a Revival

Evel_2"I wanted to scream to the world that I am a born-again Christian!"  That's a quote form Evel Knievel a few weeks ago when his baptism lead to 500 people being baptized spontaneously after him.

Evel Knieval is America's Legendary motorcycle Daredevil. His motorcycle and memorabilia are displayed in the Smithsonian Institute, Museum of American History.

In September, 1974 he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine. He is listed in Who's Who and the Guinness Book of World Records as having broken 35 bones. There is a river in Arkansas named after him.

But something really wild happened to him during Daytona Bike Week in March. Here's how he described it, "I don't know what in the world happened. I don't know if it was the power of the prayer or God himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just—the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me. … All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! … I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, 'Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.' … I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go."

On Palm Sunday he was baptized at the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California. As he was being baptized by Robert Schuller a spontaneous revival broke out and 500 people got out of their seats and were baptized as well.

What an awesome story.  Heaven is going to be populated by a pretty wild crowd. Eternity ought to fun!

Evel He was a jumping nut. Here's a list of some of the 300 jumps he made in his lifetime:

  • Jan. I, 1968 - Crashed in an attempt to clear the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas
  • Sept. 20, 1970 - Successfully cleared 13 cars in Seattle, WA
  • Jan. 8, 1971 - Again clearing 13 cars he drew a then record crowd to the Houston Astrodome
  • Feb. 28, 1971 - Set World record at Ontario, CA by jumping 19 Dodge cars.
  • May 10, 1971 - Crashed in an attempt to clear 13 Pepsi Cola trucks in Yakima, WA
  • March 3, 1972 - Suffered serious injury in San Francisco's Cow Palace when his motorcycle crashed in a very difficult landing area.
  • Feb. 18, 1973 - Taking off from the highest ski-style jump ramp ever used he thrilled the crowd of 35,000 by flying over 50 cars stacked in the center of the Los Angeles Colliseum
  • August 20, 1974 - In his last jump before the famous do-or-die Snake River Canyon attempt, he soared 135 feet over 13 eight foot wide Mack Trucks at the Canadian National Exposition.
  • Sept. 8, 1974 - After two unsuccessful unmanned test flights Evel decided to keep his word to his fans and risked his life in a specially constructed rocket powered "Skycycle" in an attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. Even though he made it across the quarter mile wide chasm, strong winds blew the malfunctioning parachute back into the canyon, landing just a few feet from the swirling river in which he would have surely drowned.
  • May 31, 1975 - A record crowd of over 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in London, England watched as Evel crashed upon landing, breaking his pelvis after clearing 13 double-tiered buses.
  • October 25, 1975 - Defiant after the Wembley crash, Evel successfully jumped 14 Greyhound buses at King's Island in Ohio.

    In the winter of 1976 Evel was seriously injured during a nationally televised performance of an attempt to motorcycle jump a tank full of live sharks in the Chicago Ampitheater. For the first time a bystander was also injured when a cameraman was struck, eventually losing an eye. Knievel, who suffered a brain concussion and two broken arms, decided to retire from major performances but continued to do smaller exhibitions around the country with his son Robbie, establishing him as his successor.


  • Jerry Falwell Dies

    FalwellI learned a lot from Jerry Falwell.

    At one time I found him an embarrassment, but the guy changed his viewpoints and his life along the way...

    He used to be known as a bigot. A designation he earned.

    I remember being in a hotel room watching the cable news channels the night Ellen Degeners 'came out.' The announcement said there was going to be an interview with Chastity (Cher's daughter) Ellen and Jerry Falwell. I remember thinking, "This is going to be a blood bath!"

    Ellen came out swinging and Falwell told her, "Ellen I really love you and Jesus loves you. Jesus loves all homosexuals, but the Bible says what it says and I need to stick with that, but you need to know I really do love you!"

    I kept thinking, "This is Falwell, the guy that is known for being so harsh and bigoted?"  I thought of John, the Son of Thunder being transformed.

    By the end of the interview Elllen was eating out of his hand.  It was amazing!

    Falwell has made a lifestyle out of getting himself in trouble, but he also has a way of getting himself out. Many times by simply changing.  It's pretty rare for public personalties to admit they are wrong and to change their postions radically. Yet Falwell did it. Pretty courageous and pretty risky.

    I doubt if I lived in Lynchburg if I would go to Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church Falwell started when he was 22.  His expressions of worship just don't do it for me. But things have changed in the Lynchburg institutions he started too. DC-Talk, one of the original Christian hip-hop groups comprised of black and white members was formed at Liberty University. Not bad for a guy that was once known as a bigot! Today his university is a center for modern Christian music performences. And this from a guy that used to think rock music in any form was evil. People can change. And they do.

    He also made some crazy remark about the Tele-Tubbies.  I can't defend that one. But I do think they are weird!

    I hope I too can grow. I thank God for Jerry Falwell and that God let some of his growth be public.  It makes me think maybe there is still hope for me!  Maybe.

    Here's a great comment on Jon Trott's blog about Falwell. 

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=11057324&postID=6066186019375596917


    The Chocolate Jesus

    Chocolate_jesus_1_2 The Roger Smith Lab Gallery in mid-town Manhattan canceled a display they were to have during Holy Week (the days between Palm Sunday and Easter) of a life-sized Jesus made out of chocolate.  Now think this through with me. Don't you think that some part of this whole thing was so that bloggers like me would go nuts and post the link to the Gallery just like I did above? Well... of course!

    Why have a chocolate Jesus on display during Jesus week?  Because the canceled showing generated national exposure that's why.

    Oh, by the way, the chocolate Jesus isn't the one pictured above.  Somebody else did that quite awhile ago, so the artist doing the chocolate Jesus wasn't even original in his thought. But to be fair, it's hard to have an original thought.  While we're being fair, I think most people would agree it would be a little weird to bite into a chocolate Jesus like the one pictured anyway. I know I wouldn't do it.

    Cheese_room1_2 The chocolate Jesus the aforementioned artist produced was really just plain disrespectful. (That's why I don't have a picture of it, nor do I mention his name.)  It got him some press and publicity though. Jesus does that for people, even people that are not following him or respecting Him.  The picture above is piece of work done by the artist.  A bedroom he covered with cheese.  Probably most people aren't planning their weekends around making their way to see that exhibit, so I guess he tried his hand at seeing if Jesus couldn't get him a bit more visibility. These are just guesses mind you, I don't really know. But I do know the name of Jesus is powerful. Even when used for one's own ends.

    The Bible tells us to "taste and see that the Lord is Good."  Better than chocolate for the moment and with eternal rewards.  Jesus sure is good!  Using His name can get you some publicity. Loving His Name will bring you more staisfaction than one could ever imagine!


    Should We Teach the Bible in Public Schools?

    Time_teach_the_bible_cover_3 Yes! According to the editorial staff at Time Magazine. Well, of course they aren't the only ones that  advocate teaching the Bible in public schools, but it's a strong stand for a news weekly.

    They also spend some time discussing the idea that the Bible 'needs' to be taught in public school forwarded by Boston University professor Stephen Prothero, the author of "Religious Literacy."  Prothero argues that studying the Bible in public schools "is essential to be a full fledged, well rounded citizen" in the United States.

    Here are a few quotes and reasons why the Bible should be taught in the public schools:

    * "It is the bedrock of Western Civilization."

    * It is constitutional as long as we don't preach it."

    * The Bible so pervades western culture, that it is hard to call anyone educated who hasn't at least given thought to its key passages."

    * According to Religious Literacy (the book previously quoted) polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to 'all or most of life's basic questions.'"

    * "Simply put, the Bible is the most influential book ever written."

    * "Not only is the Bible the best selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year."

    * The article makes the point that it is more important to study the Bible than to study Shakespeare, since Shakespeare alludes to scripture over 1,300 times. How can you understand Shakespeare if you don't know the Bible?

    * Martin Luther King's "I Have Dream" speech (which you can listen to in full on this blog) was consciously enlisting the Old Testament prophet Amos.

    * The Bible provided the underpinnings of the women's rights and prison reform movements in America.

    Hundreds of school systems across the nation are beginning to teach the Bible in public high schools.  For those that have created curriculum used across the country see the following links

    - The Bible and It's Influence

    - The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools

    - "The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide"

    - As soon as I finished this post I saw this article about Texas trying to get eh Bible taught in the schools there. Check it out and do teh same in yor school system.

    Call your school boards and get the Bible in your school system. Why should we be the last to jump on an increasing national trend? Besides the Bible rocks!


    The 2007 Easter Controversies

    During the seasons of Christmas and Easter (Easter more than Christmas) Jesus becomes a commodity. A way to sell advertising, magazines, drive people to television programs (which sell advertising) and even a way to drive people to art galleries, as we see this year with the display of "The Chocolate Jesus" (which has now been canceled. But Jesus is a powerful name and even with the cancellation the gallery and the sculptor as more well known than ever. Jesus can do a LOT of people and even galleries. Even when they aren't promoting the historical Jesus or the Savior.

    Here's the ones I'm following and will have some remarks to make daily during "Holy Week" -as they call it- the week preceding Easter daily here on the blog.  Check everyday for a new article that you can talk about at work, with friends and family and to build you up in the faith that cannot be refuted! Or stopped!  Jesus rules! Still!

    Time_teach_the_bible_cover 1) Time Magazine's cover article "Why We Should Teach the Bible in Public School (But very, very carefully)"

    .

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    Chocolate_jesus_1 2) The Chocolate Jesus.  Hey let's face it, Jesus IS good. Way better than chocolate! Some artist, sculpted a life size, anatonomically correct Jesus out of choclate (not the one to the left, so the artist isn't even original) and was to display it at a mid-town mManhaattan gallery daily during "Holy Week."  Thankfully it isn't happening.

    .

    3) Anderson Cooper's "What is a Christian?"  What_is_a_christian_anderson_coop_2 I don't like CNN that much, but I tend to like the Anderson Cooper specials, so we'll see.  Wednesday and Thursday night @ 10:00. At least he's smart enough to not try and go up against "American Idol."

    .

    Gods_approval_ratings_newsweek_ap_3

    4) God's Approval Rating covered this week in Newsweek Magazine / MSNBC.  Believe me, God isn't sitting in heaven biting his fingernails hoping more people will vote for Him and believe in Him. But Americans are incurably religious. There is still hope for us as a nation!

    .

    Christp 5) "What's So Special About Jesus?"  will be the title of Easter Service. I'll post a trifold towards the end of the week that will be suitable to give to friends and family.                                       


    Gonna Change My Way of Thinking

    Doanlad_miller_2 Several months ago I gave a book to all of our elders by Donald Miller called "To Own a Dragon: Reflections of Growing Up Without a Father."  It was unlike anything I'd read before. I got extra copies to give to other guys in the church as well. I got two reactions: (1) WoW!  (2) "What was I supposed to get out of that?" Well, Donald Miller had a huge impact on me and he has really helped me to love people more. And we all could use some more of that!

    My sister posted these new assumptions by Donald Miller. You can read them on her blog by clicking here, or you can read them right here. She posted them first, so due credit to her at www.rejoycing.blogspot.com Cool name for a blog huh? re-Joycing?  Her name is Joyce!! So here are Donald Miller's "Shift Points."  I'm certain at least a few will speak to you as they spoke to me.  Enjoy your changed life!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Thirteen Paradigm Shifts We Encountered Doing Christian ministry in a Pagan Environment     by Donald Miller

    1. Other People Exist:
    Simply coming to the understanding that the world does not revolve around “me” but that everybody is having an experience, created by God, loved by God, and that we needed to repent of showing partiality.

    2. Nobody will listen to you unless they know you like them:
    We began to understand that people, subconsciously, merit a
    religious or philosophical idea not on logical conclusions, but on whether or not the idea creates a “good person”…the definition of a good person being whether or not a person is kind to them, tolerant and understanding, able to listen without arguing and so on.

    3. Nobody will listen to God unless they know God loves them:
    We came to believe there was usually a hidden pain behind
    hostility, that many people have been hurt by the church, or people or perspectives they believed to represent God. Many times it's as simple as an interview they saw on CNN, but an apology and kindness went a long way in helping people understand God was loving.

    4. Other people have morality and values:
    We came to understand that Christians do not own morality, that everybody lives by a moral code, not always informed by an ancient text, and yet it is there. Calling people or even thinking of them as immoral was, then, inappropriate. In fact, we often found that people who did not know Christ lived a morality close to his heart in many areas we had ignored, ie; community, tolerance, social justice, fairness and equality, freedom, beauty and so on.

    5. Find common ground:
    Often the morality of others overlapped Christian morality, and we came to understand that in these cases, we would focus on the overlapping issues. We came to see this as kindness, just as though we were on a date or making friends, we did not focus on what we didn’t have in common, but rather on mutual feelings about life. We would not say or do anything to combat people unless they knew we loved them, and this takes a great deal of time.

    6. Define terms in their language:
    We were careful about Christian sayings and phrases that might be offensive: Crusade, sin, immorality….we came to understand that concepts were more sacred than terms.

    7. Telling somebody about the gospel is about them, not us:
    We were careful not to try to “build our organization” and respected peoples freedom and space. Sharing the gospel became an exercise in friendship, rather than an attempt to grow a machine. Often, people feel used if they feel they are being recruited. The gospel, we learned, is really about them, their feelings about God and truth, about sin, about life.

    8. Don’t let spreading the gospel feel any different than telling somebody about a love in your life, about your children or a great memory:
    We realized that in telling somebody about Jesus, we were telling them about somebody we have come to love and need, and about something that had happened to us, an encounter. This keeps us from sounding preachy, and allows us to share part of ourselves in a friendship.

    9. Include Lost People in Your Community:
    Our organization was not exclusive. We invited non-believers into the community if they wanted to be invited. We were careful not to not be ourselves with them, but they were certainly invited and enjoyed being a part of the group. We explained terms that we used, what we believed, but other than that, continued as normal.

    10. Apologize for what you represent:
    We discovered that many people have been offended or hurt by what they perceive Christianity to be. We allowed ourselves to stand in the place of “Christianity” and apologize whenever necessary.

    11. Be authentic:
    We discovered the need to be as honest about our lives as possible. We did not feel the need to sell Jesus, as much as share what He has done in our broken lives. We had no problem sharing our doubts and fears about faith, along with our commitment and appreciation for what God had done.

    12. Pray for the Salvation of others:
    We discovered the need to pray for others. This would insure God was working in peoples lives, as we asked Him to. We discovered the work of evangelism is something God lets us watch, but very little of it is what we manipulate. We repented of not believing evangelism was a spiritual exchange between a lost person and God, rather than believing it was a series of ideas we were supposed to convince others of.

    13. Ask people if they would like to know Christ:
    We decided to initiate, whenever the relationship called for it. We were not afraid to ask people if they would like to know God.

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    Visit Donald Miller's website by clicking here

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    Yawn! --- Finding the Tomb of Jesus?

    Jesustomb2r_468x302_1 With Easter season upon us, we can expect the regular yearly articles about Jesus, the Bible and the Resurrection in the newspapers, the news weeklies and on television specials. The Discovery Channel plans on airing an investigation into whether they have now found the tomb of Jesus. -- More yawns! ---

    The Good News is that Jesus is still attractive. 2,000 years later and people are still interested in Him. Of course! His is the only name by which people can be saved and there is a spot in the heart of every person that longs for Jesus. The real Jesus that is. But did they find the tomb of Jesus? OK, let's take a look!

    Here are the facts on the ground:

    * The documentary is produced by Oscar winner James Cameron, who is best known for his work on "Titanic" (the highest grossing film of all time.) Cameron was the one that conceived the "Terminator" series, which grew out of a dream he had of a machine that came from the future and out of fire to kill him.

    * In his production, "The Lost Tomb of Christ" he draws attention to ten ancient caskets that were discovered in a suburb of Jerusalem in 1980. What?!?! 1980?!?? These things have been around since 1980?  Why hasn't anybody picked up on this before now?

    * The BBC aired a documentary on the story and the supposed Jesus connection in 1996. The whole thing is old news and hasn't received any widespread support in any of the archaeological or academic communities. It's simply good controversy and it makes for exciting documentaries.

    * Bar-Ilan University Prof. Amos Kloner, the Jerusalem District archaeologist who officially oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980 and has published detailed findings on its contents, on Saturday night dismissed the claims. "It makes a great story for a TV film," he told The Jerusalem Post. "But it's impossible. It's nonsense."

    "There is no likelihood that Jesus and his relatives had a family tomb," Kloner said. "They were a Galilee family with no ties in Jerusalem. The Talpiot tomb belonged to a middle-class family from the 1st century CE."

    Fox News quoted Kloner as saying, "They just want to get money for it."

    * Academic Stephen Pfann, a scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, said he did not expect Christians to accept the film's findings.  "I don't think that Christians are going to buy into this," said Mr Pfann, who was interviewed by the film-makers. "But sceptics, in general, would like to see something that pokes holes into the story that so many people hold dear."

    * Some Jerusalem residents are very excited about the find. "It will mean our house prices will go up because Christians will want to live here," one woman said.

    * The Jerusalem Post reports, "The film also suggests that the so-called "James, Brother of Jesus" ossuary, which surfaced in 2002 in the collection of Israeli antiquities collector Oded Golan, may also have come from the tomb. The "James" ossuary made world headlines, but has been branded a forgery by the Israel Antiquities Authority..."

    * Jerusalem-based biblical anthropologist Joe Zias goes a step further to discredit Cameron's documentary. "What they've done here," Zias said, "is they've simply tried in a very, very dishonest way to try to con the public into believing that this is the tomb of Jesus or Jesus' family. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus."

    * According to the filmmaker "the tomb of Jesus" may have come from the same tomb as the now famous "James Ossuary Hoax" which turned out to be a fraud ending in the arrests of five individuals trying to pull off an archaeological hoax in order to make money.

    An AP Report tells us, "Archaeologists also balk at the filmmaker's claim that the James Ossuary _ the center of a famous antiquities fraud in Israel _ might have originated from the same cave. In 2005, Israel charged five suspects with forgery in connection with the infamous bone box."

    * Darrell Bock, a professor at Dallas Seminary, whom the Discovery Channel had vet the film two weeks ago, adds another objection: why would Jesus's family or followers bury his bones in a family plot and "then turn around and preach that he had been physically raised from the dead?" If that objection smacks secular readers as relying too heavily on scripture, then Bock's larger point is still trenchant: "I told them that there were too many assumptions being claimed as discoveries, and that they were trying to connect dots that didn't belong together."

    Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon. Time Magazine, CNN, FOX, the BBC. It's interesting that none of the major media outlets are really buying the story.

    As we approach the Passover and Easter season, we're reminded again that Jesus did rise from the dead, a fact attested to in history. Many have tried to disprove it, undermine it or minimize. Yet the risen Jesus continues to change lives and save souls!

    Finding the tomb? Well, the Bible tells us that Jesus WAS laid in a tomb. The Good News is He didn't stay there, but was raised in three days, never to die again. He tasted death for us, so that we could experience eternal life through Him.

    For anyone really interested in the tomb of Jesus, read this paper by Dr William Lane Craig.  Jesus was laid in a tomb, but now He is gone.

    My prayer is that James Cameron DOES find Jesus! What a joy that would be for him!

    UPDATE: Scholars interviewed on teh special backtrack and no longer believe thie own claims.  Link Here: ____________

    DOWNLOAD ARTICLE as a trifold for friends, family and co-workers here: 

    Download because_you_asked_the_tomb_of_Jesus.pdf


    Valentines: The Other Christian Holiday

    RoseMost people think of Valentines as the Love Holiday. I know I got married the week of Valentines, and am still married to my Valentine.  Other's think of it as the big day to send cards. Estimates are that 1 billion cards will be sent on Valentines Day this year, making Valentines the second biggest card sending holiday in America, Christmas being the first.  Florists, of course, love Valentines Day.  It's a huge chocolate day, although nobody has given me any yet today.  I'll keep waiting. For others, it's just a big bummer because they are single, divorced, widowed or somehow otherwise left out of the chocolate giving and receiving.  Hey, if Jesus, Paul or Jesus' mother Mary were around today they probably wouldn't have been giving or receiving chocolate either. But their value was based on who they were before God, not on whether their chocolate came from Godiva or Lindt Swiss. Actually Valentines is a Christian holiday, so everybody needs to get over it!

    It was Saint Valentin, who was martyred for his faith that all of the traditions of Valentines seem to point back to.  One of the many stories about how our modern traditions grew out of these martyrdom's is that on the night before he was martyred Valentin sent out his last love note that simply said, "From Your Valetin."  Who knows?

    The first reference we have to Valentines, the way we look at it today, comes from Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 1400), the author of the Canterbury Tales. One of his poems talks of two lovebirds and Valentines Day.

    So who really knows?  What we do know is that Christians are still martyred today. To read about that click here.

    Regardless of all of the origins, it's always good to appreciate those you love and to show it in some tangible ways.  I'm sure the best way to express love is to just be nice, but some expressions in other forms can't hurt either!

    Happy Valentines Day!


    Thank You!

    It's hard to tell from the video whether these folks in the airport are coming or going. In either case, this is one of the best commercials ever. I don't use the product, but I do endorse the theme. I posted it in honor of Alan Bobbit, Kyle and his family, but it obviously goes out to the extended families of all military personnel, with a prayer.


    Abraham Lincoln:A Study in Failure (or Perseverence)

    LincolnabrahamAbraham Lincoln has an amazing legacy from his involvement in ending slavery in the USA, to being on the penny, to having a load of schools named after him, to having Martin Luther King preach his famous, "I Have A Dream Sermon" from the steps of the memorial named after him. But my favorites are Lincoln's failures. Or his perseverance, depending on which side you are looking at it from. In honor of his holiday, enjoy the timeline of his failures and some quotes by him on perseverance.

    * 1832 Lost job Defeated for state legislature 
    * 1833 Failed in business 
    * 1835 Sweetheart died   
    * 1836 Had nervous breakdown
    * 1838 Defeated for Speaker
    * 1843 Defeated for nomination for Congress   
    * 1848 Lost renomination 
    * 1849 Rejected for land officer
    * 1854 Defeated for U.S. Senate 
    * 1856 Defeated for nomination for Vice President   
    * 1858 Again defeated for U.S. Senate   
    * 1860 Elected President 

    Here are some famous Lincoln quotes on hanging in there!

    "You can not fail in any laudable object, unless you allow your mind to be improperly directed."
    --From the July 10, 1848 Letter to William H. Herndon

    "If you are resolutely determined to make a lawyer of yourself, the thing is more than half done already."
    --From the November 5, 1855 Letter to Isham Reavis

    "The fight must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one, or even one hundred defeats."
    --From the November 19, 1858 Letter to Henry Asbury

    "I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not."
    --From the July 22, 1860 Letter to George Latham

    "Your good mother tells me you are feeling very badly in your new situation. Allow me to assure you it is a perfect certainty that you will, very soon, feel better -- quite happy -- if you only stick to the resolution you have taken to procure a military education.... On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life."
    --From the June 28, 1862 Letter to Quintin Campbell

    "I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me..."
    --From the June 28, 1862 Letter to William Seward

    "I am a patient man -- always willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance; and also to give ample time for repentance. Still I must save this government if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will not do; but it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed."
    --From the July 26, 1862 Letter to Reveredy Johnson

    "I shall not do more than I can, and I shall do all I can to save the government, which is my sworn duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing."
    --From the July 28, 1862 Letter to Cuthbert Bullitt

    "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
    --From the December 1, 1862 Message to Congress

    "We accepted this war for an object, a worthy object, and the war will end when that object is attained. Under God, I hope it never will until that time."
    --From the June 16, 1864 Speech in Philadelphia

    "I have seen your despatch expressing your unwillingness to break your hold where you are. Neither am I willing. Hold on with a bull-dog gripe, and chew & choke, as much as possible."
    --The August 17, 1864 Telegram to General Grant

    "Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag."
    --From the August 31, 1864 Speech to the 148th Ohio Regiment

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    Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.


    The Faith of Super Bowl Coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith

    Lovie_smith_2Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith have something more in common than Super Bowl Games. Their faith in Jesus Christ. As excited as they are about having been in the Super Bowl, they both have something even greatyer than that. That's why their joint website is called "Beyond the Ultimate." There is a website with their stories and the stories of other Super Bowl players. Check it out by clicking here.

    I did another story on Tony Dungy's faith and the tragic suicide of his son when I first started the blog. Check it out by clicking here.

    Dungy_4


    The Return of Civility

    Reagan_and_gob A few things came up for me personally as we've been going through the Book of First Peter in the Bible.  One of the big ones has been submitting to government and showing proper respect.  Over the last decade or so, it seems to me, respect has been becoming unfashionable.  First Peter chapter 2 tells us to respect authority. Yea but.....  what if that authority is somebody you didn't vote for or somebody that goes against your values?  Ummmm.. you mean like Caesar Nero?  The Christians suffered immensely under Nero, yet they showed respect and honor.

    Something happened to me the week that Ronald Reagan died.  The Networks and the News Channels kept showing pictures of him with Mikhail Gorbachev. One of the commentators caught me off guard with a strange phrase, "Reagan didn't make his enemies adversaries."  I found that so puzzling. What in the world does that mean?  I think it means that you can have an enemy, but you don't have to be condescending, rude, undignified or be a jerk about it. You can have an enemy, respect your enemy and maintain your dignity.  When it came to Reagan's positions on Sovietism, the Berlin Wall and freedom of speech he would not flinch or back down. But you always got the feeling he liked Mikhail Gorbachev as a person.  If he didn't like him then he was the king of polite and decorum. I sense it was a combination of both. When Ronald Reagan died, some of the key people Nancy Reagan wanted to be around were Mikhail and Raisa Gorbachev.  WoW!

    Bush_and_clinton_portrait_1 Something happened shortly after Reagan's death that got me thinking even deeper about these issues of dignity, respect, in short civility.  It was "The Unveiling of the Clinton Portrait at the White House." I happened to catch the whole thing as I was waiting for an appointment to show up at a restaurant.  George W. Bush was unveiling the portrait and said some very nice things about Bill and Hillary Clinton. Very nice. He called Bill & Hillary great a mom and dad. Said they were great role models. Said they were dedicated public servants liked by the people. The kind words went on and on.  It is really worth reading the speech.  Click here to read it on the White House page.

    When Bill Clinton rose to the podium, he said, "I want to thank the president for his kind words towards Hillary and I." I kept thinking to myself, that this was some of the Reagan, "don't let your enemies become adversaries" action spilling out.  We don't have to agree to be respectful.  We don't have to agree in order to be kind and civil.

    I was brought up to respect authority, not that I always did, but I was taught and I agree that you treat ALL authority with respect. I fear that we as Americans might be losing our civility. If we are, we stand to lose the very soul of our nation. Our dignity. 

    I'm trying to live out Peter's words, 1 Peter 2:17 "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

    If George W. Bush and the Clintons can be respectful towards one another than I can be respectful towards all of them. If Reagan and Gorgachev can be respectful towards one another, then I can be respectful to my town officials.

    I've been noticing for some years that Christian apologists and now Christian pastors and ministers (as well as Christians in the marketplce) seem to have little problem calling people names, making fun of them (in a condensending manner) and coming up with derogatory terms for people that are in positions that derserve respect by virute of the office. What's happening to us?  We're becoming worldly and taking our cues from news commentators that are part entertainers / part news analysts.  We're the representatives of Christ on earth. Not only did Reagan win the battle, but won the friendship. Living by biblical values has incredible power, regardless of who practices them. Shouldn't Christian spokes-people be at least as polite as George W. Bush is to Bill Clinton?

    The dictionary defines civility as "Courteous behavior; politeness. A courteous act or utterance."

    I'm advocating for a bit more civility and respect in our society. Let it begin with me.  What say ye?  Jesus assures us that the peacemakers are still blessed.

    Reagan_and_mikhail_1    


    Psychic Sylvia Browne is "Dead Wrong"

    Sylvia_brown_1I hate the negative approach of putting people down, making fun of them or proving how wrong they are in order to make yourself look right. Most people don't respond well to negative spin, except in some sick or perverse manner. Not that I'm above these base tactics, it's just a cheap shot. There certainly is nothing attractive about putting people down or "putting them in their place" in front of others. Negative people might be attracted to negative reporting, but that doesn't mean every once in a while you shouldn't blow the whistle, expose the lie, or just "say something!"

    Sylvia Browne is a phony, is dangerous, does not bring hope to people and must be stopped.  On Saturday, January 27, 5 PM eastern time she will be doing a live presentation of her "Predictions for 2007." Her predictions are more than just parlor games, tricks, fun or educated guesses.  Her predictions are sorely wrong, hurtful and dangerous to people looking for hope. She ought to be banned or at least boycotted on a large scale. SHE IS DANGEROUS TO THE EMOTIONAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL HEALTH OF PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.  Stay away from her!!!

    Consider how hurtful these "predictions," "psychic vibrations," and "pronouncements" are. (Click the underlined links to read the stories.)

    * She told the parents of Shawn Hornbeck (the boy missing for four years and recently found with another abducted boy) that their son was dead! How creepy is that?!?!  It was on the Montel Williams show that Browne originally told the parents that Shawn's body was near two large boulders in the woods. After telling them he was dead she offered to help find the body for $700 a half hour. Her response to authorities after finding the boy was that she is right enough times for it to not make difference. Right, Unless, you're the family! Not to mention she told a national television audience he was dead! Watch here for some discussion on Fox News about Sylvia's wrong assertion that the boy was dead.

    * Based on a "strong psychic feeling" she convinced people to give her money to invest in a mining operation. One young couple gave her $20,000 and rather than invest it in mining, she invested it in her own "Nirvana Foundation for Psychic Research." She was indicted on grand larceny charges. She plead "No Contest."  She said she failed because her psychic abilities don't work for herself. Well, they didn't work for the young couple either!  Here's an article titled, "Sylvia Browne Failed to See Her Own Criminal Conviction"

    * She predicted a cure for breast cancer by the end of 1999

    * Watch here as she tells parents their daughter was shot.  The parents tell her, "No," the girl just collapsed in her bedroom.  This stuff is utter foolishness.

    * She stated the Sago Miners were all alive and then changed that after the news came out that they were all dead.

    * In 1999 she told a grandmother that her abducted six year old granddaughter was not dead, but had been sold into slavery and was in Japan.  Later that year a convicted sex offender was charged with her death and her body was found 13 miles from the home.

    * She predicted the troops would be home from Iraq in 2004 and then in 2005 and then in 2006.  How awful to hold out false hope like this to families that have loved ones in the line of fire day after day.

    * She is also the founder of her own church.

    * For the stupidest thing you'll ever see in your life, watch how Sylvia Brown on Montel Williams tells a girl that lost her firefighter boyfriend on September 11th that he died from drowning, "just like that girl in Aruba."

    The Bible tells us to beware of false prophets and prophets whose prophecies don't come true.  Beware of Sylvia Browne, she did not bring any comfort to the families involved in the stories mentioned.  Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice."  Listen to Him. He will never leave or forsake you!  And he certainly won't sell you bad information!

    (the picture of Sylvia Browne is taken from her website.) 


    The Internet: "Do You Who is Talking to Your Kids?"

    Internet_safety_with_directions_2Mark Gomez of Clearfield, Utah will be bringing his presentation on "Internet Safety: Facts and Critical Information" to Southern New England, February 11 - 18. The presentation is geared primarily for parents and teachers, but is suitable for social workers, law enforcement and all those working children, adolescents and young adults.

    Gomez's presentation is an expose of online victimization techniques and a profile of who is most at risk to online predators.  He includes the "Six Steps Predators Use to Lure Children." The presentation prepares adults to protect children and themselves from predators that are entering our homes through our computer screens.

    Detective James McLaughlin of the Keene County Police Department has coined new term, Technophilia, to define a new level of crime associated with the increase of online communication and networking. It is now believed that one in five children are sexually solicited or approached on over the Internet in a one year period of time. Online availability has lead to a new category of crime and social corrosion. You won't want to miss this presentation. Bring a friend that needs this vital information with you.