Idol Chatter

9-11 and 3:16. What do those two numbers mean to you?
For Max Lucado and his publishing teams, the first is the release date of a host of new products, and the second is the product itself.
“What if hope could replace despair?” he asks. “What if the church could come together around what they’re for instead of what they’re against? What if love could overcome hate? It begins with 3:16.”
Ever since the late 70’s, John 3:16 has been known as the hallmark verse of the born-again movement. Unfortunately, it’s also been minimized as the sign that the rainbow-haired guy used to show at NFL games, and a verse that doesn’t connect enough with the real needs of irreligious people. Lucado is hoping to change all that.
“3:16” is a hardback book being released today, with a chapter for each of the significant words and phrases of John 3:16. It’s a whole book about one verse. Together with the book release is a DVD called “3:16 Stories of Hope,” which features Max’s teaching segments and a little short film segment about the Prodigal Son. Added to that is a CD release called “3:16 Songs of Hope,” featuring a who’s who of today’s Christian music headliners, including Third Day and Chris Tomlin, staples Michael W. Smith and Sandy Patti, and crossover artists like Allison Krauss/Union Station and Jars of Clay. There’s also a version of “3:16” for kids and resources for church types who want to do a small group project over several weeks with friends.

If you’re someone who’s been raised in a church or who resonates with the simplicity of one verse that summarizes the whole bible–and believes John 3:16 is it–you’ll love every piece of this package. If you remember the day when you made a decision of faith based on a message from this verse, you’ll find warmth here. Lucado always keeps things simple, and those looking to understand the gift of the Savior will find it (and Him) in these pages and on these discs. The musical acts are at their best and the whole package’s roll-out–from book to music to DVD to web–is sharp and nicely done. Lucado brings as much out of this verse as anyone has since Billy Graham.
And if you’re among those who believe life is a little more complicated then taking this (or any) verse and pretending it solves everything, and are demanding a religious expression that makes more of an imprint on today’s life issues rather than just handing out life insurance for eternity, then you should at least give this a look. You may be disappointed in a project that reaches back–not forward–in a movement that has created many converts but hasn’t converted a generation. Or, you may find inspiration as this effort probably comes closer to what you’re looking for than anything has in a long, long time.

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