Pop Culture

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...

  Mdison 2

..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.


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.


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.

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