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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!


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!


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!


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

Little_richard

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.

Jerry_lee_cousin_of_swaggert

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


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.