Sunday, October 11, 2009

Exit 12 Passaic Jesus

Settled by the Dutch in 1679, Passaic was once known as "The Birthplace of Television" as the first television station X2XCD began transmitting here in 1931.

Some interesting folk are from this city: Mitch Albom (who brought us The Five People You Meet in Heaven); Alan Cohen (co-owner of the Boston Cetics and New Jersey Nets); Millie Perkins (lead in The Diary of Ann Frank); Gerry Polci (of The Four Seasons); Alan Rosenberg (Screen Actors Guild President); The Shirelles (all of them) and Loretta Swit (Hot Lips from M*A*S*H).

A few years back the movie, Be Kind Rewind, was entirely shot here and currently the NBC series Mercy films on location at the old St Mary’s hospital.

There’s also a rather large courier service which had a problem with their employees. Seems as the couriers would either forget or refuse to scan their badges as they began and ended their delivery routes.

Management had a unique solution: a picture of Jesus was placed between the scan points. The result? A cool 85% increase in employee outgoing and incoming scans. As one employee stated, "I felt THE MAN was always watching me."
Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

East Jesus, New Jersey

Now that I have satellite radio available in both my personal and work vehicle, suddenly I find myself drawn to the alternative rock stations with no desire for "America’s Top-40." Yesterday morning the DJ from who-knows-where said he found himself in East Jesus, New Jersey. Now that sounds like my kind of place. So I did some research on all New Jersey places with "east" in it and this is what I found:

East Amwell
East Brunswick
East Greenwich
East Hanover
East Newark
East Orange
East Rutherford
East Windsor

But alias, no East Jesus. What gives? Again I had to go to the slang-lang dictionary which cleared things up a bit: East Jesus, New Jersey…..some where in the middle of nowhere.

Now along with finding the meaning of the phrase, I also stumbled across Greenday’s East Jesus Nowhere with the not-so-uplifting Christian lyrics, but what can I say? I like Greenday so that was a pleasant find nonetheless.
And as those boys from Greenday belted out:

Oh bless my Lord for I have sinned
It’s been a lifetime since I last confessed
I threw my crutches in the "river of a shadow of doubt"

I drove by a place called, East Coast for Jesus in Riverside. Huh. I just had to inquire.

ECFJ is worldwide in scope, crossing all ethnic, racial and denominational lines; bearing always in mind, our Lord's last prayer upon the cross, that His people would be one, even as He and the Father are one…so their brochure states.

John 17:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.

East jesus photo:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Exit 10 Edison Jesus

My Life Group is currently following the church’s study in Kaleo: to this you were called. We are called to be light. The study goes on to say, “Jesus calls us the ‘light of the world.’ In truth Jesus is the true light of all the world and He has lighted a light in the life of each one of his follower.” Huh.

On Sunday, Pastor Tom held up a lamp to illustrate his points: light on, light off, light with lamp shade….you get the point. And I’m sitting there trying not to think of that ‘80’s Praise & Worship song, Shine Jesus Shine.

And just leave it to Urban Outfitters (this time Edison NJ) to take this passage quite literally to produce the Jesus LED Light, (no need for a lamp shade here).
Now that got me thinking of all things LED and I just had to do some research on what the heck light-emitting diodes had to do with Jesus. And ya know, there’s some website out there which explains How Stuff Works which says, “Basically, LEDs are just tiny light bulbs that fit easily into an electrical circuit. But unlike ordinary incandescent bulbs, they don’t have a filament that will burn out.” Huh.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine makes a little more sense each day.

John 8:12:
Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Exit 2 West Side Hwy Fringe Jesus

When my theater critic friend called wondering if I was interested in attending any of the FRINGE NYC theater productions, I jumped at the chance to be cool once more and I lit up the mood speakers in my Kia Soul ! and headed to the city.

I felt God smiling on me as he provided free parking and what do you know – right in front of St Anthony Padula, the official NYC patron saint of parking. Oh glorious day.

Tucked between SoHo and The Village, I was happy to find that Sullivan Street still hadn’t succumbed to corporate America as there wasn’t a Starbucks in sight. Instead there were three coffee shops all within a half block radius: Local, Once Upon a Tart and The Jean Claude CafĂ©. I chose my fair trade java at Local. After all, Grub Street NY reviewed, "Even people with hairy, unattractive babies can enjoy Local." So Local won out over Once Upon a Tart though O.U.T. had some really cool miniature Eiffel Towers on display. I think they were mocking Jean Claude but I couldn’t be sure.
As I made my way to the theater, I found this postcard: I just knew things were going to be all right. And showing at the theater? Billed as 100 years of Hollywood and 33 films starring Jesus…."Jesus Ride".

The first few minutes were promising enough with informative snippets from a variety of films ranging from The Greatest Story Ever Told to Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter to The Passion. Then the actor/playwright spent the next hour or so 1) bashing The Trinity Broadcasting Network, 2)portraying Christians as people who believe Jews are bad because Jews killed Jesus and 3) moaned and moaned about working for a Christian director/dictator from TBN. Gosh, if I wanted to hear someone complain for an hour, I could have just gone to my day job.

Numbers 11:1Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Exit 9 New Brunswick Jesus

New Brunswick was first settled way back in 1681 as Prigmore’s Swamp and was later renamed in 1714 after the city of Braunschweig, Germany. Now the Duke of Brunswick later became King George I of Great Britain and the street, which bears his name, cuts through the heart of this college town.

Here on George Street you’ll find The Blingdom of God, perhaps the largest collection of gold Jesus heads in the state supplied by the Gangsta Gold Company. Go figure.

As I stood on the street soaking in all the Jesus bling, the owner came out and asked if I was interested in a Jesus Piece. I quickly accessed my portable Urban Dictionary to find Jesus Piece:
Oversized platinum, gold or silver pendant sometimes encrusted with diamonds and other gems made in the likeness of Jesus. These pendants are worn on a heavy rope style of necklace.

The Jesus piece, and other styles of large pendants worn with rope style jewelry have been a staple of hip-hop youth culture for nearly thirty years. Presently, hip hop artists and fans alike use the Jesus piece as a symbol of being "hood" or keepin' it real and being extravagantly wealthy at the same time. The Jesus piece testifies to the fact "you can take the man out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the man."

Well that got me thinking of the other type of Jesus Peace and ya know, that Urban Dictionary was all over it:

Giving advice to walk away -Ay man throw up that Jesus Peace and walk away man, its not worth it.

Or a greeting-Ay My Dude! Jesus Peace, wuzup?

Luke 7:50: Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Acts 17:29: Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Exit 11 Woodbridge Jesus

Dave Ramsey, the personal money management expert, extols the virtue of the 7 baby steps to financial peace. Step 1: $1,000 in emergency fund; Step 3: three to six months expenses in savings; Step 4: invest 15% of income; Step 5: save for college. These steps all involve some form of saving while Step 7 involves quite the opposite…giving.

Now I’m a hands-on, visual kinda guy so while wise old Dave provides wonderful web-based tracking documents galore, I’m so old school that I’m thinking of my savings more on the lines of a piggy bank.

Then as fate would have it, I stumbled into that mecca of all things crappy retail, Spencer Gifts in Woodbridge. As a meandered through the toxic air of over-sized rubber boobs and every body part known to man and woman, I found my Jesus-inspired piggy bank.
I’m savin’ up for Jesus! Now that motivates me. There’s just something about a large coin hitting the bottom of tin that excites my savings gene. And every time I drop a dime I’m reminded (photo) Jesus Saves Me.
While I may not be able stuff all of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps into this tin canister, Step 7 is written there right on the side. When this bank is bursting with blessed cash, be sure to hand it over to your favorite nun or priest.

Baby Steps 1,3, 4 & 5: Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline (savings) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Baby Step 7: II Corinthians 9:7
"God loves a cheerful giver."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exit Rt 12 Flemington Jesus

Flemington, once only associated with discounted furs: mink, sable, fox, beaver…you get the point, now houses the largely ghost town-ish Liberty Village designer outlet. The recession has hit hard here with the ever-shrinking Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Bass, Calvin & Anne Klein stores, sales associates outnumber the shoppers 4 to none. Literally.

But who knew that just across the tracks, at the intersection of Church and Central Ave, there be an almost cool Christian Bookstore. Bible Bookstore (though Bibles were in the minority of items stocked) was a pleasant surprise and unlike the Village across the way, even had shoppers. The first book that caught my eye was the comic book, Heroes featuring CARMAN (in big bold print) and the New Testament (in super small print). I almost laughed out loud at the thought of Carman being the main focus. So I guess John the Baptist, the Tweleve Disciples, and oh yeah, Jesus weren’t big enough heroes for the publisher.
Fortunately, a few others stood out like Jesus: Divine or DaVinci? Nothing like having a thought-provoking book on Jesus in a Bible Bookstore. I usually find more books with that annoying Jon, Kate plus 8 family.

Then I spotted, Jesus the Jewish Theologian and bam! This store even acknowledges Jesus was a Jew…pretty cool stuff. Next shelf over: Sex Begins in the Kitchen. I’m assuming it was one of those How to Save Your Christian Marriage books.

Now I’m not a huge fan of Christian T-shirts but some in this place did bring a smile to my face – Jesus: Life’s Problems, One Solution…It’s just that easy. Now I’m not too sure that following Jesus is that easy and the Pick Jesus T looked kinda cool though I wasn’t too sure about the theology behind it. The next Tee though…no question of theology: there’s power in the blood.

And almost better than the Tees, this bookstore came complete with coffee bar, twenty flavors of homemade gelato (even sugar-free gelato) and transforms to a funky hangout for emerging artists on Friday nights.
Matthew 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. [As printed on the there’s power in the blood tee shirt.]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Exit 151 or 161 Montclair/Paramus Jesus

OK. I’ve given up on the Family Christian Bookstore. From here on, it’s Urban Outfitters to get my Jesus-fix. And lucky me, here in North Jersey I can chose locations: Paramus or Montclair (though the Montclair location has far more Jesus-stuff).

While the Family Christian Bookstore stocks WWJD bracelets and bumper stickers which leaves the ultimate question unanswered, over at UO, the Answer Me Jesus takes out all the guesswork. It’s the same principle as the on the old Magic 8 Ball concept…. you think of a question, turn it over and an answer appears in some mysterious blue liquid in triangle form.

An inscription on the box read: Not intended for use by the closed-minded.
I couldn’t resist. I have an open-mind and I do have questions for Jesus and hey, why wait until the BIG DAY when I could get immediate gratification? Well I have to admit, I really didn’t have a question but I turned the pink statue over anyway and the triangle in the blue murk read, “I died for this?” And I almost died laughing.

And then I saw the warning label:


Mark 8:12
He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Exit 26 Route 80 Long Valley Jesus

Long Valley was known since colonial times as German Valley, but then along came WWI and the townsfolk just had to separate themselves from anything Germanic. The most famous place in the valley is still the German, I mean, Long Valley Pub & Brewery whose website proudly proclaims, "We are kid friendly!"

I can hear those parents now, Hey kids, drink up, it’s happy hour. And those kids, We never want Chuck E. Cheese again! Good thing Jesus's first miracle occured during a wedding, not a birthday party.

Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the valley is St. Luke’s Parish and the parish loves the local children and they want their kids to know Jesus loves them too. Sculputre Tom White created a garden of bronze just outside the parish’s front door. You can find his story here:

He ends his website with:

John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." His bronze Jesus certainly appears to be coming straight out of the earth with arms stretched wide.

Luke 18:
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Exit 105 Long Branch Jesus

Long Branch became the nations first seaside resort way back in the 1700s and was the original Hollywood, that is until the other Hollywood on the West Coast took the movie industry by storm.

Popular with dead presidents: Chester A. Arthur, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson, the city has brushed off it "old" image and now attracts an affluent set of folk.

Who would have thought a drive down the Garden State Parkway to beautiful-and now very trendy-Long Branch would bring out so many Jesus inspired car stickers? My trek began in the parking lot at Kohl’s where low and behold adjacent cars had the following stickers:

And as I pulled out of the lot, the car ahead of me had a NJ plate which read, "JC Lord" but I couldn’t whip out my camera in time to take the shot.

Arriving at Pier Village, to my delight there was street parking and oh lookie, lots of Jesus bumper stickers too!

After strolling the promenade and window shopping all the chic bar-restaurants, I treated myself to a gelato, imagining I was in Venice. But alias, no trip to Long Branch would be complete without a stop at Max’s – which serves up the dangest, biggest hot dogs on the planet. I pulled into Max’s lot and glory be…more Jesus bumper stickers than you’d find in the SixFlags parking lot for a Toby Mac concert!

Then it was time to head back North, where yes, I was indeed cut off several times by some crazy New York drivers who obviously didn't understand the concept of turn signals. After a few miles, I thought I found my soul mate:

After several thoughts of giving the NJ one-figure-salute to the last jerk who cut me off, a car pulled up to me with this in the side window:

I took the hint and kept both hands on the steering wheel.

Proverbs 10: A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.