Conflict Resolution

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

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.

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.


Persecution in the 21st Century

Persecution_logoPersecution towards the church of Jesus Christ is not new, Jesus spoke of it before the church was even formed on several occasions.  In Luke 21:12  "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name."

Further in John 15:20 he says, "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also."

The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was not an apostle, but one of the members that served tables (Acts 7.) James was killed shortly thereafter by Herod (Acts 12.) These two deaths give us a working definition of how persecution is generally defined.  While persecution can be defined as being constantly irritated the persecution most commonly spoken of in the Bible is organized, usually involves more than one persecutor and is usually organized, officially or non-officially. When we use the word persecution in this way we are referring to physical abuse, torture, rape, murder and severe violence, not just the critical remarks of others towards faith.

Persecution still happens in the 'modern, enlightened world."  IN the latter half of the 20th century China took center stage as an unprecedented revival encompassed the largest nation on earth. When the Communists took over China, many feared the small struggling church there would be wiped out forever. Instead, a sovereign work of God began and turned into the largest spiritual awakening the world has ever seen.  The revival in China shows no signs of waning.

In the latter half of the 20th what began as a small trickle is beginning to turn into a flood as Muslim nations are experiencing a worldwide revival of their own.  The modern day Islamic revival seems to have begun in 1979 when students -including who many believe to be the current president of Iran- took over the American Embassy. Few then saw it for what it was, the reawakening of Muslim sentiments in the Middle East. In the last 27 years Islam is experiencing dramatic worldwide expansion, influence and power. Along with that has come a renewed wave of persecution in the Islamic nations.  As the list below shows the Muslim and the remaining Communist nations lead the list of persecution nations in order of severity.  The other number shows their ranking last year:

January 2006:                            

January 2005:

1.      North Korea          1
2.      Saudi Arabia 2
3.      Iran 5
4.      Somalia 7
5.      Maldives 6
6.      Bhutan 8
7.      Vietnam    3
8.      Yemen  11 
9.      Laos 4
10.    China 9
11.    Afghanistan 10
12.    Uzbekistan 15
13.    Turkmenistan 12
14.     Eritrea 16
15.     Comoros 14
16.     Pakistan 13
17.     Egypt  18
18.     Myanmar (Burma) 17
19.     Azerbaijan 22
20.     Morocco 23
21.     Brunei    24
22.     Libya  20

Throughout the week we'll tell some of the stories of those that are suffering for their faith right now.

For more information on the suffering church and how you can help visit these websites:

Open Doors

Voice of the Martyrs

Safe Harbor International

Muslims Firebomb Churches to Protest the Pope Calling Them Violent

Angry_muslimsIn response to the Pope quoting an emperor from the Middle Ages saying Mohammad was violent, Muslims violently attacked five churches on the West Bank with guns and firebombs.  Am I missing something? Doesn't this just add to fuel to the fire? Read the Pope's remarks in context here.