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Did you watch the epic miniseries The Bible that aired on The History Channel in 2013?
If so, you were in good company. It was a surprise smash hit.
Why do I say a “surprise”?
Because network executives didn’t believe anyone would want to watch a miniseries about the Bible on TV. The History Channel hoped the program would get as many as three million viewers. But when all was said and done, over 100 million people had watched the series.
The production crew observed a cloud formation in the form of a cross during the filming of “A.D. The Bible Continues.”
Beyond sheer numbers, the impact on individuals has been as epic as the series itself. Maybe that’s because seeing biblical stories come alive on the screen brings them alive in our imaginations.
It’s a visual reminder that, although we live in a very different world than the biblical characters, nothing has really changed with humanity. But it also reminds us that God is just as present and as active today as He has been throughout history.
My good friends Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the producers of The Bible, say biblical history is “our story.” The people in the Bible didn’t know they were the people in the Bible. They were human beings like us, struggling with the circumstances set before them, just as we are. We see our humanity through the biblical characters, and God’s grace in their lives and ours.
And that is powerful when you consider that a lot of what’s happening today in parts of the world parallels the persecution of the early church. That’s why I’m happy to have Roma and Mark as guests on our program today, discussing their newest endeavor, A.D. The Bible Continues.
It picks up where The Bible miniseries left off and takes a deeper look into the Christian story, beginning with the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Dramatic portrayals illustrate the brutality of the Roman empire which ruled with an iron fist to squash unrest in Judea. Much like the world we live in today, governments ruled according to political expediency instead of truth. Watching it all unfold on your TV screen, you’ll feel the fear of the early church. But you’ll also witness their commitment to Jesus Christ and be inspired to strengthen yours.
The premiere episode will air April 5, Easter Sunday, on NBC with new episodes following each week for 12 weeks, exploring the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts.
I hope you’ll tune in to your local radio station as we discuss this upcoming miniseries on today’s broadcast, “A Bold Witness for Christ on Network TV.” If you can’t join us, remember our program is available anytime online or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
One last thing… I’m excited to announce the return of our John 3:16 television ad from 2012. The ad, which shows children reciting the John 3:16 Bible verse, first aired during a national football game and was seen by an estimated 33 million people. We’re pleased and humbled by the opportunity to share it once again. The ad will run during the A.D. The Bible Continues miniseries. Watch for it.
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This month’s issue of First Things magazine features a powerful argument for upholding and proclaiming the truth and beauty of God’s design for marriage.
“The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage” is a product of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, a group founded 20 years ago by one of my heroes, the late Chuck Colson, and another highly regarded statesman of the faith, the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus.
Several prominent Evangelical and Catholic leaders have endorsed the statement.
Given the cultural redefinition of marriage taking place before our eyes, and the accompanying attempt to eradicate the God-instilled differences between the two genders, it’s an important and timely message.
And it’s aimed directly at Christian believers, to help us take stock of exactly what we have in God’s good gift of marriage, and what is at stake if our culture continues on the path of jettisoning this institution that goes back to the very first man and woman. It is written with eloquence and in a spirit of grace, but it does not flinch from offering a sober assessment of the cultural challenges facing us.
I will share a couple of key excerpts below, but I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it for yourself. It’s worth your time.
The statement begins with Jesus’ declaration that “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” The authors go on to note many instances where this most fundamental reality is being flipped on its head.
For instance, some jurisdictions, like California, have replaced “mother” and “father” on certain birth certificates with simply “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” (and even “Parent 3” and “Parent 4”). In many places, marriage licenses now simply refer to “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2,” replacing “husband” and “wife.”
The authors write: “When society systematically denies the difference between male and female in law and custom, our fundamental dignity is diminished, the image of God within us is obscured, unreality becomes legally established, and those who refuse to conform are regarded as irrational bigots.”
As I’ve noted numerous times in this space, we’re already seeing this happen. I wrote just a few days ago about the Michigan woman who had her fitness center membership revoked because she expressed concerns about men being allowed to change with her in the women’s locker room. Numerous florists, bakers, photographers and other professionals have been punished by government authorities for refusing to participate in a same-sex “weddings.”
These are strange and even unsettling times, but they’re also times for us to let our light shine brighter as the darkness descends. Along those lines, the writers of this statement close with an extended exhortation that should be a charge to all of us as followers of Christ in this mixed-up culture.
“All Christians and men and women of good will must work to rebuild the culture of marriage and live lives that attest to the joy and beauty of marriage…. Keeping in mind the obligation to speak the truth in love, we must find ways to distinguish true marriage from its distortion, and we must do so without abandoning the public square. We owe our fellow citizens a socially engaged witness to the truth about marriage, which, with the family, is the unalterable foundation of a healthy, humane society.”
“The time is approaching—indeed, in some instances it has already arrived—when Christians in this country will suffer abuse for upholding the truth about marriage. We encourage our fellow Christians to stand firm in obedience to Christ, for that obedience is the most compassionate service we can offer society. In doing so, we must strive to heal the wounds of a confused and broken culture, to foster human flourishing, and to honor the God who created human beings in His own image, male and female. For Christ said, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10).”
After you’ve had opportunity to read the full statement, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
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