The Bible

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!


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


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!

   


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.


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.                                       


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!

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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


Will the Real Jesus Stand Up?

Who_do_men_say_i_am_1Jesus. That's one pretty powerful Name! Which explains why so many have used the name to promote themselves, their agendas and their weird ideas to a hungry and desperate public. Some have even claimed to be Jesus!  The most recent claim being Jose Luis Jesus Miranda, who preaches from a warehouse in Florida.

JesusThrough his numerous interviews he has given we can begin to piece together his beliefs and his history.  Jose is 60 years old and born in Puerto Rico.  He says he used to be an evangelical.'  Prior to becoming an evangelical he was a heroin addict. The way the story goes is that he previously ministered in a drug rehabilitation ministry in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  After some years of ministry he began to be disillusioned with the church.  In his more desperate moments he claims that Jesus Christ came to visit him one night.

When Jesus visited him, he says that Jesus disappeared and Jesus disappeared into him. This was, to him, the second coming of Christ. Jesus was now living in him.  By his own testimony he was a bit slow figuring out what happened at that moment and used to consider that he was the apostle Paul. But after growing some, he finally came to realize in 2,000 - the year he says many were waiting for and looking for Jesus to return - that he was Jesus returned.

One of the "proofs" Jose Luis Jesus Miranda gives that he is Jesus is that he does no signs and wonders. Since the Bible says that false Christs and prophets will perform signs to deceive, Miranda claims that he does no signs and wonders as a 'proof' that he is in fact Jesus Christ.

You know what?  Yawn!

There is only one Jesus who is 'the way the truth and the life' and it is not Jose Luis Jesus Miranda!


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