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3:16.1 God’s Love
We’ve all seen them at sporting events and concerts: the obligatory John 3:16 signs.
In case you are wondering that all started in 1980. A guy by the name of Rollen Stewart had been making a name for himself by appearing at major sporting events wearing a rainbow colored wig and dancing wildly for the cameras. He was referred to as “Rainbow Man.” In 1980 following the Super Bowl, Stewart was sitting in his hotel room watching a televangelist by the name of Charles Taylor and committed his life to Christ. Shortly after that he decided to add the John 3:16 sign to his “Thing.”
He claimed that he travelled 100,000 kilometers a year to various sporting events, including the Indianapolis 500, the Olympics, The Super Bowl - and even Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding. He truly felt that what he was doing was a ministry that would lead people to Jesus. Not everybody agreed. One sports director actually threatened to fire any cameraman who focused on Stewart.
But the truth is, it wasn’t just Rollen and his sign. You might recall Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow wearing John 3:16 printed on his eye black while playing College Football. When his team won the 2009 BCS (Bowl Championship Series) Championship game John 3:16 was the most googled term on the internet the next day. Shortly after that the rules were changed, forbidding college football players from having words written in the eye black. That rule is oftentimes referred to as the “Tebow Rule.”
Let me run just a little further with the Tebow story. On January 8, 2012 exactly three years to the day from that college win, Tim Tebow played his first NFL playoff game and led the Denver Broncos to victory over the Pittsburg Steelers. Here are some stats from that Game: Tebow threw for 316 yards. He averaged the highest single-game postseason completion average in NFL history; that number was 31.6 yards per completion. In the second quarter of the game there was an interception (football people would call it a pick-six, because it was run back for a touchdown). That game changing play happened on a - you guessed it - third-and-16 play.
It’s not just football. Pro-wrestler, Stone Cold Steve Austin, has been known to wear an “Austin 3:16” t-shirt and just a couple years ago Keith Urban went to number one on the Country charts with his song “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” It even creeps up on Highway road signs every once in a while.
John 3:16, in case you are wondering, is probably the most memorized verse in the Bible. It has been called “The Gospel in a Nutshell.” In the King James Version it says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In the English Standard Version it reads John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The story has been told about President Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush or you can simply insert the name of your least favorite politician. Actually the first time the story was circulated was in 1990 in regards to George W. Bush’s father, the first President Bush. But the story is always the same: the president (whichever it may have been) is speaking at a gathering of religious leaders and as part of his remarks he comments on his favorite Bible verse. Intending to say "John 3:16" but in the pressure of the moment, he instead identifies John 16:3 as his favorite verse. John 16:3 says, “And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” Completely different meaning than he was intending.
Medication: A Merry Heart
My appointment as the new pastor coincided with the church’s appeal for aid for victims of a hurricane.
Unfortunately, on my first Sunday in the parish, the center page of the church bulletin was accidentally omitted. So members of the congregation read from the bottom of the second page to the top of the last page:
“Welcome to the Rev. Andrew Jensen and his family ... the worst disaster to hit the area in this century. The full extent of the tragedy is not yet known.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Mark 16:15
Today’s readings: Psalms 56, 120, 140 – 142