Prayer Conversations: The Search for Living Water

Today's prayer:

Lord, I thirst for true living water. I'm weary of always trying to find living water in the dead water of this finite world. We drink and drink and drink from all our earthly hopes--our relationships, health, careers, hopes, longing for security and stability--and even when we get one of those things, they fill us for awhile but soon we're thirsty again. This life offers so many wells, so many promises of fulfillment, but even the best that this life can offer leaves the spirit dry and thirsty for more. Your love is better than life itself. I long for your living water that truly satisfies and ends the desperate search, the endless thirst, and I ask for more of your living water to overflow in my spirit, mind, heart, and in every corner of my life until it spills over and encourages other people too. In Jesus' name, amen.

What the Lord might say in reply (John 4):

Everyone who drinks this world's water will be thirsty again, but there is a spring of water that never weakens or stops, but is ever-flowing and moving swiftly through the channels I carve into your heart during the hard times. And this living water can rush through the barriers and rocks that clog up your spirit and overpower them until it is a smooth running river from beginning to end, winding through every canyon and valley, bringing refreshment to places in your spirit that you never thought would find healing or hope again.

Prayer Conversations: Brand New Clothes as Bright as the Sun

Today's prayer:

I lift my heart to you, Lord, and ask you to clothe me in your light and strength and in the clothes you've made for me--the covering of the Holy Spirit and the warmth of your promises, your grace and mercy, and the protection of your Word. This world and the people in it try to dress me up in their labels and opinions and ideas and words, and even my own heart dresses itself too much with the shadows and phantoms of fear and grief. I ask you to take that all away and clothe me with Christ and cover me with your perfection that you give away freely.

What the Lord might say in reply (Isaiah 54:17; Romans 13:14):

I invite you into my throne room, my presence, my holy tailor's studio where I will clothe you with a new start in me and give you all my perfection and righteousness for you to wear as a gift. You can never earn your way into my presence and make yourself clean enough, and so I wash you in grace and mercy through the work of my Son on the cross, and I clothe you with new life, like the joy of the sun and the gleam of the moon and the shimmer of constellations, as you rest in my presence and receive all the gifts I have for you in faith.

Prayer Conversations: Tossed in a Tempest

Today's prayer:

Abba Father, I seek you and take shelter in you today. The frailties and failures and disappointments of life can overwhelm the soul, and the day can knock us over like a micro-burst of torrential wind and rain that no one saw coming--a sudden onset from a storm that can rip trees out of the ground. I look to you when the sky swells dark, when the air is heavy and the sound of my prayers, even under the open sky, are muted and muffled and thrown back at me by life and by the world and by my own weaknesses. And when the sharp words of others hit me like hail I run for cover under the shadow of your wings, in the secret place of your wide pavilion, where all is safe and dry and you set my feet on spacious ground, far away and free from the strife of hearts and people. 

What the Lord might say in reply (Isaiah 54, Zephaniah 3:17):

My afflicted one, tossed back and forth on a tempest, never finding rest. See, I quiet you now with my voice, with singing that surrounds you on every side, with a rush of wind that does not destroy but chases the smoke and smog out of your lungs and lets your spirit breathe deep again, full of new hope and life. See, I build your foundations with precious jewels, and no hand can undo or stop my work. Breathe deep in this secret place and rest.

How U2 and C. S. Lewis Both Capture a Deep Longing for God – Part 1: Stabs of Joy and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’

The following is part 1 of an article series that examines excerpts from a new book about U2 and C. S. Lewis (how their music and writings intersect and capture spiritual hunger in powerful ways) called Shadowlands and Songs of Light: An Epic Journey Into Joy and Healing. The series is being published to celebrate the upcoming release of U2’s new album “Songs of Experience.” (#U2SongsOfExperience)

Possibly the most wonderful, intensely blissful emotional sensation that can happen to us in this world–maybe even more wonderful than falling in love–is something that C. S. Lewis called “stabs of joy” in his autobiography “Surprised by Joy.”

This “stab of joy” is a longing so intense and sweet and melancholy all at once that it’s overwhelming and ecstatic, and it can strike at any moment, as I wrote:

[This stab of joy] is close to the intense sensations of homesickness—the pangs that come when we see a place from our childhood or hear an old song that’s tied to our past. Yet it’s not quite nostalgia. It goes beyond that. When this strange Longing stabs us, we feel homesick for a home we’ve never had. 

For each person this moment is different–maybe you felt it once while watching a sunset or stargazing or when you saw your newborn child for the first time or when you read a certain book or smelled a certain fragrance of flower on a rainy day in the garden. The pinprick that causes the longing is different for everyone and it changes as we get older, but it is common to the human experience. (And this bittersweet yearning for something we don’t know and can’t describe can often be the catalyst or precursor to what philosophers call existential angst.)

One of my earliest memories of a stab of joy happened while backpacking as a kid. My family had just reached the summit of a mountain at the same moment when a fighter jet flew over it, so close that the pilot saw me and gave me a thumbs up. The next moment I turned and reached a vista overlooking the California Sierra mountain ranges and the Nevada deserts.

That’s when the stab struck, as I....Click here to read the full article.

When God Confirms We're On the Right Course: My Interview with Singer Jordan Feliz

(This article originally appeared on RockinGodsHouse.com)

Jordan Feliz and I have something in common: we're both from the Central Valley in California -- he from Fresno, me from Shafter. Even many people in the Central Valley haven't heard of my small town where I grew up, but Jordan, to my shock, new Shafter.

So it was easy for me to imagine the beginning of his journey from California to Nashville: speeding down the road with the wide panorama of the mythic, John Steinbeck-ian Central Valley looming behind -- an adventurous drive across the country that he and his wife made completely by faith. They only had enough money to get to Phoenix, AZ, and yet they both felt without a doubt that God was calling them to move to Nashville so that Jordan could put his musical talents to work in the Christian music industry.

And when I heard the rest of the story -- how God actually got them to Nashville -- my jaw dropped. (And you'll have to read the interview below to find out why.) The story will be deeply encouraging for anyone in the midst of a scary faith journey.

It's a great example of how God uses events in our lives to confirm we're on the right course.

And the way that God has provided for Jordan and his family, even during the leanest of times, reminds me of Abraham's journey of faith and the journeys that many of us take when God calls us to leave behind the familiar and jump headfirst into the unknown. An awareness of this miraculous provision and of the true riches of Christ permeate Jordan's music. And thanks to the success of his smash-hit single "The River," which reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot AC/CHR Chart, millions of people are getting exposed to those riches of faith that Jordan has found in Christ.

Jordan and I spoke recently over the phone about his new album Beloved that is turning a lot of heads in the music industry, his new single "The River" and the meaning behind it, and, most importantly, his inspiring faith journey:

In your bio I noticed you're from Central California. I'm from a town called Shafter, near Bakersfield. So I just had to ask.

Yeah, I know Shafter!

You do? Wow that's crazy. So what is Nashville like compared to our neck of the woods in Central California.

Man. It's better. (laughs) 

I bet! [And I said that because we Central Valley dwellers are known for being self-effacing about some of the less than desirable qualities of the Central Valley -- like its soul-crushing heat in the summer.]

Yeah, it's better. It's really green which is something I never used to see. It's also just a totally different dynamic with the people. It's almost like you have to get used to it. The people of Nashville are just so welcoming and very communal. Everybody wants to be your friend and hang out. It's just awesome, really great.

That makes me want to visit Nashville. Though I do get kinda homesick when I'm away from Central California. You kinda get used to John Steinback-like vast plain of agriculture.

Oh, totally dude. There are definitely things I miss. But the "miss" doesn't outweight the things we have out here. But I completely agree. I find myself every time I think about a restaurant over there or my coffee place I get a little homesick.

I love the imagery of the song "The River," and I was curious what inspired you to use that imagery?

This song stems from John 7:38 and the verse says, "Whoever believes in Me will have rivers of living water flow from within them." So the imagery got kinda drawn out of that verse. The song is an invitation. That's what it's written to be -- an invitation to everyone, maybe someone who feels like they've lived their entire life by the books or someone who is maybe on the opposite side of that who feels like they have so much baggage that they're just too ashamed to bring that to the Cross. More than anything it's the opportunity to go down in amazing grace and rise up being made new.

That's awesome. It just has that communal feel. "Let's all go down to the river." It has a warmth to it besides that powerful theology. Very cool.

It's funny because some people have taken it as a baptismal kind of vibe. Essentially it's kinda like that, but really the song is -- those rivers of living water -- that is the Holy Spirit. That's what the verse is talking about. So let's go down. It's almost funny, so yes, it's about the river but it's about the river inside of you. It's about the Spirit flowing inside of you and going down into that and being made new from that.

Reading your bio I was really inspired by your journey of faith. It kinda reminded me about how God called Abraham out -- a calling to go into the scary unknown -- because of how God called you out on this crazy trip to Nashville. I was just curious; what gave you the sense that God was moving you to Nashville? Or how did God help you make that decision?

I took a job as a worship leader for a year after the band I was in broke up, and in that year I had a really, really close friend of mine (who actually is now my manager), but he reached out to me. He used to be in a band that played with my band. He was talking to me about how he would love for me to come to Nashville. Around that time I was really feeling like God kept giving me revelations and ideas for songs. So I was just like, wow, that's weird that Adam calls me, and then God is giving me these song ideas. That's weird. So I felt like I wanted to explore it.

So I flew out to Nashville. I just felt like God's hand was over the entire trip like, "this is something you need to pursue." I came back home, talked to my wife about it. We prayed about it for about a year. We both felt like we had made a couple trips to Nashville. We both felt that every time we left it felt like home. It felt like we were going back somewhere that wasn't our home. We just really felt like God was just "go."

It's really interesting because sometimes you want to know, and it's really hard, there's so much wondering in your journey as a human being. You're like, "Am I just saying this to myself? Am I the one speaking this into my life or is this God?" Our journey w
as just a testament to God's abundance in our lives. It was really amazing to see Him and His hand over us in our journey.

That's incredible. I think it is awesome how God will confirm things with external signs that you know you couldn't have invented on your own. And that brings me to my next question about your amazing story of how you actually made it across the country, somehow getting shows along the way. Could you fill us in on how that happened?

In that year of planning and praying I started putting together some kind of tour so that we would basically not have to feel the financial weight of the move and the costs and the gas to get to Nashville because my wife -- I mean, I'm a musician and a worship leader; it's not like we're really rolling in it. [laughs] It was kinda one of these things where I put all these things together. I've always been that way, just a planner and I want to take control of things and just kinda do it.

Two weeks before we decided to move everything fell apart. Everything fell apart. All the shows got canceled. I was just like, "oh my gosh how are we going to make it?" My wife and I were both kinda looking at each other like, "Is this God saying don't go?" Is this Him saying you've been misinterpreting this the whole time? There was much confusion. We just really, we prayed together every night for the next two weeks. We really felt like God was still telling us to go. So we hopped in my van and trailer that had everything we owned, and I just starting calling. I mean the day we left, the first day, I didn't have a show, so I called and ended up getting a show in San Bernadino, California. That show paid to get us to Phoenix, which is where my wife's family is from. So we stayed there as a home base for a couple days while we tried to get a couple more things kinda figured out.

Basically that became the trend: calling, just cold calling people I've never met before like "hey, do you need a worship leader today? or for anything?" It was crazy because all of a sudden we're making like literally just enough money to get us to the next place, and it's just like "oh my gosh God you're providing." I'm seeing all these things, and then we're driving through Texas, and I'll never forget it because I felt like all of a sudden we're running out. We're just not going to make it. There's just no way. I'm calling everyone, like can I get a show in Oklahoma City? I don't know anyone there. We have nothing else. I've called hundreds of people in a matter of like seven days.

I end up calling a friend from Dallas, and I say, "Dude, by any chance do you have any connection in Oklahoma City?" And he says, "Actually, yeah, I do. Let me text you his number and see if you can work something out." So I call him, and the guy goes, "Oh man that church doesn't even exist anymore." I'm like great, great, that's awesome. Thanks. He goes, "But honestly though, I have a buddy of mine who just started a church in his backyard in a barn. I'm thinking, yeah that sounds about right. Yeah, send me his phone number.

So I called this guy, his name is Tony, he's amazing. A super awesome guy. We end up going there. He's like, "I can pay you a hundred bucks if you want to come in." I'm all, "Hey, it's better than nothing." So I go in and this is just total proof that God is way bigger than anything we could ever imagine. So I go in on the day of the Oklahoma City Bombing Marathon, and so their entire church is participating in it, so I played to 26 people in two services. So I don't know how, but I ended up making like $1,500 from a church with 26 people. There was a guy who literally wrote me a check for $300 and just told me, "I don't know why, but when you were up there God told me to give this to you." [Jordan pauses on the phone for a moment] Dude, I have goosebumps right now. Everytime I talk about it, it's just crazy. The only answer to it is just the fact that God's provision is such that He wants much more for us than we even want for ourselves. Because I was striving just to get to Nashville, and I ended up making money moving to Nashville. It's just proof that His ideas for us are much bigger than we even have for ourselves. 

Incredible. I knew there was a story in there, but I didn't know it was that awesome. [laughs] Thank you for sharing that. Just hearing that story is going to keep me encouraged for the rest of the week. Wow. My next question ties into all of that. What advice would you give to a Christian who feels God is calling them to do something big and scary but they're really not sure they can pull it off?

Man. Even though it's terrifying and I've been there, done that legitimately the thing is is that if God is calling you to do it no matter what comes out of it because even when we've been in Nashville there have been things that God has asked me to do that have not ended up in the moment really being a good idea. You're like why am I doing this? And all of a sudden three months later you're like, oh that's why I did that. So I say, go, jump headfirst. You know what I mean? Dive into it. Ever since that move my wife and I have been living our lives like that. Of just saying, "God we trust You. Do what you have to do." I mean we have been provided for in moments that you would have though how are they going to make it there's no way that's going to happen and we have. The moment you abandon all your earthly fears and all these things that weigh you down and that is a lot harder than you think it is, I still struggle with it. But the moment that you run from them is the moment that you see God doing some amazing things in your life that you would have never though you would have happened because it's totally true that He wants so much more for you than you want for yourself.

Wow. [pauses] Yeah, I'm just kinda absorbing that right now. That's really awesome, thank you so much for that, it's really encouraging. Are there any tour plans or anything you want people to know about that's coming up?

I'm going to be home all fall. Being a family man, being a dad. Being a husband. I'm writing for my next record. But in the spring I'm starting, well, I guess it's late winter in January, I'm starting a tour with Big Daddy Weave and Plumb. It's called the "Beautiful Offerings Tour." So keep your eyes pealed and hopefully we will be able to hang out.

***

Check out the official Jordan Feliz website to learn more about his music and to stay up-to-date with the latest news.

Comforting Thoughts in Times of Sorrow

(This post originally appeared on RockinGodsHouse.com)

The late Lauren Bacall -- Hollywood silver screen legend and wife of Humphrey Bogart -- once said, "Your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that."

Anybody paying attention to the world right now will have added a few more lines of sorrow to their face. These are times that try our souls.

This week, besides losing one of the most beloved personalities in American culture (Robin Williams), we lost one of the last icons from the Golden Age of Hollywood (Bacall). As an ardent fan of movies and of these actors in particular, this was a painful week for me. And, if these losses weren't sad enough, journalists are reporting new horrors and tragedies on a daily basis -- both near and abroad.

It's times like these when we need to keep an eternal perspective. The Christian believes that his or her true home is not this earth but Heaven. When we remember our true citizenship, it helps us push through times of great sorrow in this world, which C.S. Lewis called "the valley of tears." Speaking of Lewis, here are a few moments from Lewis's writings that help us see our true Home with vibrant colors and greater clarity:

1. The magnificent "solidness" of Heaven in The Great Divorce.

In the short fiction work of The Great Divorce, when a group of lost souls in "grey town" (Hell, perhaps, or a sort of transitory "holding tank" until Judgment Day), are given leave to visit the foothills of Heaven, they find that Heaven is so solid compared to their ghostly forms that not even the blades of grass will bend under their weight; and, in fact, the grass pierces their feet like swords. They're also unable to lift the leaves, as if the smallest leaf weighs two tons.

Encouragement: Although the book is a work of theological fantasy fiction, Lewis makes a profound observation: Heaven's substance is the true reality, and all other places below it, whether this temporary universe or Hell, are flimsy in comparison -- so much so that a soul cannot even bend a blade of grass in Heaven unless they are one of its citizens. It's a powerful reminder that this world is not our true home, and that we "seek a better country," as Hebrews 11 puts it.

2. The tears of Aslan in The Magician's Nephew.

In this book, which is the first in The Chronicles of Narnia series, the boy Digory asks Aslan the lion to heal his dying mother. He pleads with Aslan in fear, as if he were petitioning a frightening, distant monarch. But when Digory looks up from his tears and sees Aslan's face, he's shocked to find Aslan crying bigger tears than Digory over his mother. Digory realizes that Aslan has a greater love for Digory's mother than he does.

Encouragement: Although the Narnia books are not a strict allegory, Aslan is certainly a Christ figure. This scene with Digory reminds us of a powerful truth that Scripture supports: Christ loves our loved ones more than we do, and He feels our grief more keenly than we do. This realization strengthened my heart when I lost my mother.

3. The glimpse of unspoilt paradise in Perelandra.

In Book Two of Lewis's Space Trilogy, the hero Ransom finds himself in a paradise world untouched by the Fall (the sin of humanity).

Encouragement: If a mortal writer can dream up a world like Perelandra that fills the heart with such awe, imagine what God can do with Heaven. In an indirect but powerful way, Perelandra reminds us that our true home -- Heaven -- will be more wonderful than anything we can imagine. Here's a description from Perelandra when Ransom eats one of the fruits of paradise:

"Moved by a natural impulse he put out his hand to touch it. Immediately his head, face, and shoulders were drenched with what seemed (in that warm world) an ice-cold shower bath, and his nostrils filled with a sharp, shrill, exquisite scent that somehow brought to his mind the verse in Pope, 'die of a rose in aromatic pain.' Such was the refreshment that he seemed to himself to have been, till now, but half awake. When he opened his eyes— which had closed involuntarily at the shock of moisture— all the colors about him seemed richer and the dimness of that world seemed clarified."

Lewis, C. S. (2012-04-03). Perelandra: (Space Trilogy, Book Two) (Kindle Locations 727-731). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Is the Shroud of Turin Evidence for Christ's Resurrection?

(This article was originally published on RockingGodsHouse.com)

Have you ever wondered about the Shroud of Turin--whether it's authentic? Is it really the burial cloth of Christ?

Well, one of the world's leading experts on the Shroud, Mark Antonacci, wondered the same thing too once, and it changed his life. Antonacci, a lawyer by trader, has not only discerned evidence that the cloth is authentic and is the burial shroud of Christ, but he has recently released an astonishing hypothesis: the Shroud also bears evidence that the body wrapped in it was resurrected.

So when I had the chance to interview him about the Shroud, I jumped at the chance. Besides hearing about the remarkable facts about the Shroud that led to his hypothesis, we hear how God used the Shroud to bring him to Christ.

But before we jump into the interview, here is the latest press release about him and his new book TEST THE SHROUD:

Author and one of the leading experts on the Shroud of Turin, Mark Antonacci, continues his pursuit for the authenticity of Christ’s burial cloth with his new book, Test The Shroud. Following over 34 years of studying the garment, Antonacci is convinced that additional testing at the atomic and molecular levels could easily prove that the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ were actual events in history. Antonacci maintains that the marks on the cloth are those of a dead human body and were made with particle or neutron radiation that wasn’t discovered until the 20th century. The radiation accounts for more than 30 unique and remarkable features on the body image that includes still-red blood stains and the pre-mortem and post-mortem wounds that were inflicted upon Jesus. Test The Shroud presents illustrations to help explain the proposed testing, while the writing style is easy to understand and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Test The Shroud describes advanced scientific testing techniques that have become available and can demonstrate if a miraculous event occurred, when it happened, where it happened, the actual age of the garment and the identity of the corpse. Antonacci is petitioning the Vatican to allow this new scientific examination to take place, and his theory is being supported from other scientists around the world.

•    “…convincing line of reasoning that the Shroud of Turin is the authentic burial cloth of Jesus Christ.” – Art Lind, Physicist

•    “Test The Shroud is a gold mine of information on the controversial Shroud of Turin.” – Joe Marino, Theologian, Sindonologist

•    “A fascinating read – highly recommended.” – Robert A. Rucker, PE, Nuclear Engineer

•    “…many interesting details of the most important relic of Christianity, both from the scientific and historical points of view.” – Giulio Fanti, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Thermal Measurement, University of Padua, Italy.

 

For my first question, I want to hear more about your story before we get into the Shroud. How did you get interested in the Shroud? And how did it lead to your faith in Christ?

I stumbled on the subject by accident as a result of an argument with an old girlfriend almost 35 years ago. The argument was over the fact that she was a Christian and I was an agnostic and it was kind of a threat to the relationship, which was just beginning. I didn't want to sit around all weekend and let it bother me so I decided to go in and do some work on a Saturday, when there's no deadlines hanging over your head or nothing like that--there's no court on Saturday morning.

As a result of the argument I go into work and I can't get anything done there either so I decided, "Well, I'll just take some lunch." It was a Saturday and the paper that I stopped to get didn't even stay in business much longer after that and it had been in business for decades, but I never read that particular paper, but on Saturday the weekend sports edition came out in that paper so that was one of the few times in my life I grabbed that paper. It had a review of an article about a new book that came out on the Shroud of Turin summarizing the findings from the first initial examination of the cloth. In fact, it's still the only examination of the cloth. If it wasn't for the argument I never would have came across the article or the paper and if I had come across the article I wouldn't have paid any attention to it. But this actually irritated and bugged me because it reminded me of the argument and this is what I was trying to forget.

You couldn't get away from it!

I literally sat there eating lunch and there was a byline at the top of the paper on the weekend edition and they had a picture of the man on the shroud. You know how a picture looks like it's looking at you? The thing kept looking at me out of the corner of my eye when I'm trying to read the sports page, and I pushed it away a couple times. Finally I picked it up and said, "All right, I'll read the blankity-blank article." Then I find myself back at the apartment where I started out and I'm pacing back and forth and this is the key. I feel threatened and a lot of people feel threatened by new, objective and independent evidence on a subject that is almost as personal as you can get--your religion. But I was very attracted to it because I'm an attorney and it's very unique evidence, unlike anything you've ever seen before.

Finally, I'm pacing a couple hours and finally in mid-step it hits me, I go, "Wait a minute, what are you worked up about? If this, if there is evidence of the Passion, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, what's bad about this? This could be good news, idiot." So I thought, "Well, okay, I'll look at it all ... " Boy was it interesting, it was just astounding. But a lot of people can't get over that first hurdle and I admit, having a long-legged brunette was a real incentive to reach an accommodation here. [laughs] But after we more or less put that issue behind us we found other things we could argue about. Everybody thinks, "Oh, it has a happy ending and you marry her and you live a wonderful Christian life together." I do live a Christian life, but I didn't marry her. I married somebody else 10-12 years later.

So it's almost as if God set up these little things that prodded you in the right direction.

Yes, we were to meet and to know each well for a short while. I still talk to the gal once in a while, we went to school together but we were three years apart so you didn't have any contact with each other in those days. That's how I got started and I really do think it was very important because it's hard to get yourself to look at it, to overcome your preconceived notions, whatever they are. I was agnostic but you could have been an atheist, you could have been a Hindu, a Buddhist, you could have been anything. It's hard for people to think, jimminy, there might actually be scientific, medical, and archaeological evidence that corroborates the accounts of the greatest historical sources in the world, the Gospels and the New Testament.

It has been pretty astounding just to read through your material. One of the things that jumped out to me about the Shroud was where it says that there are approximately 130 blood marks, and there are many unique features have never been duplicated in any age. Can you maybe talk a little about that?

These blood marks appear in cloth in the same shape and form as they would have on the body. They formed and flowed, they coagulated and first of all it's hard to get coagulated blood off of your skin and onto cloth, it's just hard to get it off your skin in the same shape that it was in on your skin. They're not only on the cloth, they're embedded in the cloth with serum around the edges and you can see them on both sides of the cloth.

The outer side of the cloth has always had a backing cloth on it for support but when you take the backing cloth off and you look at it, they're in almost the same shape and form on the outer side of the cloth as they are on the inside of the cloth that wrapped the body, the dead body. The blood still has a reddish color to it, tint is a better word for it. If the blood is from the Middle Ages it wouldn't have been red after a few days. I don't know if you read that part in the book but if you irradiate blood with neutrons and then subsequently expose it to sunlight or ultra violet light, it will maintain a reddish color and it will even look more red than it does in natural light, in sunlight. It will look even more red than in a room or something. It's something about the combination of neutron radiation initially and then ultraviolet light subsequently, but no forger could have irradiated it with neutrons in the middle ages, of course, neutrons aren't discovered until the twentieth century.

That touches on one of the things that really stuck out to me the most, your discussion about how it's been irradiated with particle radiation and the more I read about that it seemed to create this amazing image of basically Christ's body--evidence of the resurrection. Is that what you're pointing to? Is this particle radiation showing that something really supernatural happened here?

Oh, yes. This could only have been a miracle. It appears, and of course we'll want to test this, but it appears that particle radiation emanates from the length and width and depth of the dead body that's in rigor mortis, and it's after he suffered all the wounds. This is a miraculous event. Scientists can't do that in the 21st century, although they discovered particle radiation, protons and neutrons, they can't make it come from your little finger let alone the length and width and depth of your body--a dead body on top of it.

That's incredible.

It captures all the indicators of a prior event. This guy has been crucified, he's got all the signs of it, he's had a bundle of sharp pointed objects, or thorns, put over his entire head, which is consistent with the types of crowns that were used in the east in the first century. He's been scourged with a Roman instrument, he's had a rough, heavy object across the back of his shoulders. He's fallen down, he's got a postmortem wound in his right side in the perfect location that they would have never known of back then, from which blood and a watery fluid flows, just as the Gospel of John describes, on Jesus. His legs aren't broken, unlike the thieves--they're legs and all other crucifixion victims were broken--but this guy was already dead, as indicated by the postmortem side wound and the lack of broken legs.

They're all captured by this, what we think is a miraculous event that happened and if it's particle radiation it will leave unique proof that this event occurred, but it will even tell you when it occurred and where it occurred and, at that point, the identity would be pretty simple. But the clincher of who it was would be the miraculous event. No other such miraculous event under all these same circumstances [has happened]--that only exists for the historical Jesus. It doesn't exist for somebody else. What gets me is the evidence is simply unfaceable. Collectively, it's unfakeable. You can fake a few aspects of the images, though I've never come across anyone who's duplicated one of the blood marks let alone 130 of them. The blood marks are not broken on the edges and they simply don't know how any of this happened, and my book hypothesizes that after the radiating event occurs, the body also disappears. If you hypothesize that the disappearance occurs at the time of this radiating event you can account for all the primary and secondary body image features, as well as its off-image features such as this radiocarbon dating or the excellent condition of the cloth, and if there are things like coins and flowers on there you can explain those as well by this event.

The evidence is definitely overwhelming and, like you said, it's a thread to an amazing path to joy if people are willing to accept it. I know your desire is to have the shroud tested, do you see any progress in having that happen, is there resistance to that? Have you been trying to petition for that to happen?

There is resistance to that, a lot of people don't know the first thing about the subject and when they hear it, when you talk about that they just think it's preposterous and they have no idea what the evidence indicates. All they know is it's carbon dated to the Middle Ages and that's that. Even a lot of Christians will think, or even people who study the Shroud will think, "You can't risk doing these tests because what happens if they fail?" Well, you're just in the same situation you already are in. It wouldn't mean anything except that my hypothesis is wrong. You'd still have to explain all the features on the body images and the blood marks.

Is it the Catholic Church that has the authority to have it tested? Is that really the main one that you have to petition or is it more complicated than that?

Certainly you would have to convince them but you'd have to convince the people who have influence with them--say in Italy, various scientists and that probably have more influence.

It's just so fascinating. Thanks for writing this book and sharing all of that. I'm praying that it actually does come to fruition, that it does get tested. I really think that could lead to many, many more people like you who found Christ through the Shroud.

Listen, your prayers are very valuable, don't think they're not. They help more than anything. I find myself all the time praying about this. If the public's aware of it you can get a response from the Vatican even if the present conduits to the Vatican never do believe in it themselves. I'm not limiting myself just to those conduits. They're good people, it's just I don't think they have a good grasp of [it], and they're afraid of what other scientists might think.

But this is very detailed out in peer-reviewed, scientific literature--the hypothesis is out there, as well as in the book. The hypothesis is testable and there's no reason it shouldn't be tested. The technology should be developed more and perfected before it's ever applied to the Shroud itself. The technology exists now for limestone but it needs to be developed and perfected for linen and blood, which are the most important things to test. We don't know for sure whether Jesus's burial tomb, the reputed locations, we don't know if one of them really is the tomb. The most likely one is the Holy Sepulcher, by far, in my opinion, but we don't know for sure if that's the case or not. I think even they questioned this very strongly back 1600 years ago.

It's just amazing that we have the Shroud. I think that's definitely a sign, I think God intended that as another way to advance the Gospel during these difficult times of humanity. It's amazing to see all this come to fruition. I'm excited to see how it develops.

Think of all the wars and conflicts that are going on now where religion is at the heart of these disputes or certainly an underlying element or a long-established basis for such centuries-long conflict. Why can't we decide this question based on logic and evidence instead of who can outgun the other one, who can conquer the other one? It doesn't work on these kind of issues. You can't. Any victories you have are temporary and it just makes the bitterness and the combativeness. It just ingrains it and gives people a more recent reason to fight even harder and to start another war. It's time these things were answered on the basis of evidence, like we try to do on every other issue. You try to get the evidence, the objective evidence to guide your opinions. It's too bad we can't do this on politics as well.

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For more information on Test The Shroud visit online at www.testtheshroudonline.com.

About Mark Antonacci

Mark Antonacci is the founder and president of the Test the Shroud Foundation, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Shroud of Turin. He gave the keynote address at the international conference held in Italy in conjunction with the Shroud’s exhibition in 2010. As an attorney, he has spent over 30 years studying all aspects of the evidence relating to the Shroud of Turin and released his first book on the topic,The Resurrection of the Shroud, in 2000. The project received coverage from such high-profile outlets as the Chicago Sun Times, Dallas Morning News, Tulsa World News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and the nationally syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM. Antonacci practices law and lives with his wife outside of St. Louis.