With about 11 days before the 2014 Super Bowl, a lot of football fans are turning their attention to the nation's number one sports attraction football.
In Lehigh, Rev. Tony Holley, pastor of Harvest Ministries Church in Lehigh says a football legend will be offering the sermon, calling it a "positive message of hope," on Sunday Jan. 26 at 10:30 a.m.
The 2014 Super Bowl will be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands in New Jersey (with New York serving as an official host as well), marking the first-ever Super Bowl held at an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather city.
The special guest at Harvest Ministries will be Joe Jackson who was a pre-season All-American in 1971 and was drafted by the New York Jets in 1972. He finished second in quarterback sacks in his rookie year and he has been featured in Superstar Sports Magazine with New York Jets All Rookie Team for 1972.
Pastor Holley said Jackson signed with Minnesota Vikings in 1976 and played with hall of Famer's Joe Namath, with the New York Jets, and Frank Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings.
But on Sunday, Jackson will have a different message although he may recall his days of pro football. Jackson serves as pro director or Athletes International, a ministry of inspiration and encouragement to upcoming athletes and well as professional players.
"He is an excellent communicator, mentor and counselor. Joe shares his faith in Jesus Christ as the greatest encourager within his life," Holley said.
Not only are Harvest Ministries Church members excited with Joe planned program, but they are inviting the community to come and hear his message of hope.
Jackson is sometimes called "Joey," by his friends. He is 63 years old today He is remembered for playing for the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings as a defensive end. He finished second in quarterback sacks as a rookie. And now he is an evangelist to athletes and conference speaker to Christian men's groups and churches throughout the United States.
He attended and play for the new Mexico State University and was also elected to the New Mexico State University Hall of Fame. He was later picked in the fifth round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
Jackson writes on his Facebook page that he grew up in a good Christian home in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was baptized and became a member of Second Trinity Baptist Church when he was 12. Yet he says he never committed his life to Christ until later.
Jackson will tell those in the congregation that he struggled as a youth with a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem,.
Standing almost six feet tall and weighing 176 pounds in only the sixth grade, Jackson towered over his friends and classmates. He says this distinction made him different and he felt odd, weird and clumsy.
Soon poor choices and peer pressure led Jackson to juvenile detention with reform school on the horizon, he said.
He said he began to see his dream to one day play in the National Football League slip away, not to mention the big disappointment he was to his parents and family. He said he needed a priority change and he needed God.
Jackson said he gave his heart to Jesus Christ during his freshman year at New Mexico State University and that through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, the Navigators and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Jackson said his life was dramatically changed.
Now he travels the world over as an evangelist.
Pastor Holley of Harvest Ministries said the members of the congregation are excited to have Jackson visit Lehigh and speak at their church.
They expect many young people, and probably some older members, to ask for Jackson's autograph while he is here.
"He's the real thing, a servant of God to bring us a message about his life and devotion to Christ," Holley said.
"I invite everyone to come and hear a positive message of hope for every person, wherever and however life finds you at this moment.
"You will be encouraged to reach for your dreams and move forward in your life," Holley said.
For those who want to get a jump and see more about Joe Jackson, the football player and evangelist today, you can see some highlights of Jackson's days of playing football on Youtube on the Internet. Go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSf16Vkm4gk.