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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.


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.

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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."

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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!

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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.                                       


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!


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.

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