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Saturday, May 31, 2008

MARITAL AIDS: Christian Nymphos & Changing Christian Values

Web sites dedicated to enhancing Christian sexuality are proliferating. The latest I found is Christian Nymphos -- six Christian women who blog about matters of sexuality from an encouraging Christian perspective. They are very open minded. Very. ;)

Web sites, blogs, books, articles, seminars, sermons series, stores selling marital aids, etc. — growing in number — all dedicated to encouraging Christian husbands and wives to enjoying sexuality and dispelling the old myths that God hates sex. They are serving the role of a corrective after centuries of poor Christian theological sexual ethics.

Even Todd Rhoades who writes for the Monday Morning Insight had a column this week about how bad the sexual ethics of the Middle Ages were. MondayMorningInsight.com: The Holy Guide to Coital Positions.

While I think this corrective is good and probably enjoyable for many, I can't help but thinking there is a danger in mimicking the culture.

Here are some other related sites (I borrowed some of their code.), some of which you will notice that I already have in the side bar. The Generous Husband and The Marriage Bed are excellent.

    Book 22

    Covenant Spice

    Family Dynamics Institute


    Romance Between The Lines

    The Generous Husband

    The Generous Wife

    The Intimate Garden

    The Marriage Bed

    The Pure Bed

The God of the Bible is the author of love and lovemaking. We as his people ought to be experts at both.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Ultra Rev's Weekend Tour

theultrarev will be traveling this weekend teaching 2 evangelism classes and leading a concert of prayer in Western PA ... will visit Saxonburg, Butler, New Castle, Beaver Falls and Cranberry Township.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Paul Cain Update

Back in December I posted an update about the ministry of Paul Cain, an older evangelist known for his ministry in the supernatural and prophetic realm.

Charisma magazine gives another recent update: Paul Cain ‘Totally Misunderstood’ at Lakeland Revival. Years ago Paul gave a prophecy about stadiums being full in Florida near the end times. Some believe this revival in Lakeland to be part of the fulfillment of that prophecy. Paul was there as an honored guest, not speaker.

Apparently while there in Lakeland, Paul said something about rumors about him that were not true. Some thought he was recanting his apology and repentance from some publicly known sins. NOT true. Apparently he was referring to the rumors that he was unrepentant. Which also seems to be NOT true and that he apparently is truly repentant. But who knows. He hid his previous moral failings for many years. I think he's sincere.

Sadly, the article also mentions Paul "Cain had a stroke shortly after the incident last week, but is reportedly stable and recovering." I hope he recovers and more incredible ministry happens through him. I will certainly pray for him.

On a personal note: My Paul Cain Update post from December is my overwhelming most popular post in the past 18 months by a landslide. The other most popular?
I write about lots of things. Sex. Computers. Wine. Churches. Evangelism and Ministry. Scandal and Schism. Myself. Some of it is very interesting if I do say so myself. Yet the most popular posts are Paul Cain, a moose and a ring tone. I dunno. That's weird.

If Only I Could Get My Real Life Self Photoshopped

SF Gate: That is not really Cameron Diaz / Of course every magazine spread has been Photoshopped. But do you know to what degree? How deep is the lie?

Great article by SF Gate columnist Mark Momford about the incredible depth of photoshopping that goes into the pictures of a magazine and the lack of depth in our souls that make us hunger for such things. A short segment:
"It is no longer about zapping pimples and wrinkles with the Healing Brush tool, no longer about eliminating red eye and evening out the skin tone. And we are light years from the quaint, old-school darkroom tricks of dodging and burning and torquing exposures."

That's the stuff I know how to do. Amateur stuff. I can mess with color and exposure correcting, fixing one's skin, teeth, eyes, etc. to look pristine. But the pro's these days are way beyond that.

"These days, it is far more about creating entire worlds. It is about manipulating every single pixel. Simply put, there is nothing Photoshop can't do, no scenery recreation, no age redefinition, no body part that can't be rebuilt from scratch, nothing. The fantasy has been distilled and purified to a degree where, if you are the slightest bit attuned to it, it becomes truly fantastical. And also, well, a bit of a joke."

The article mentions the numerous YouTube videos, even links a couple, that demonstrate the prowess of Photoshop to change the average person, even ugly, to be a supermodel.

"Observe, for example, this recent spread of Cameron Diaz on the cover of British GQ, so hilariously retouched and glossified and hyper-perfected she might as well be a mannequin dipped in olive oil and draped over a smoky sunset. Does anyone actually believe Diaz looks anything like that? Just how low does the average male (or female) IQ have to be to believe this silly lie? Who, really, finds this sexy?"
Friends, we must, we absolutely must teach our daughters that those magazines are liars and the women in them are not the standards for beauty to live up to. They don't even exist. They are no different than an oil painting or drawing. It used to be that a photo was considered an accurate re-presentation of the original. No longer.

Somehow I'm Guessing God Isn't Pleased Nor Is This Guy Selling Cars

Badvertising: California Ford Dealership Radio Ad Tells Non-Christians To "Sit Down And Shut Up"

The dealer says that since 86% of the population believes in God and is therefore Christian, the rest should "Sit down and shut-up." [heavy sigh]

Everything is Evolution These Days ... even God

Religion is a product of evolution, software suggests - being-human - 27 May 2008 - New Scientist

Researchers are now hypothesizing that religion is the byproduct of evolution. All this, discovered by a computer program. "By distilling religious belief into a genetic predisposition to pass along unverifiable information, the program predicts that religion will flourish." Some how people gained a benefit from religious beliefs, passed it on to their children and the non-religious were weeded out through natural selection.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Be A Short, Short Term Missionary

2-3 Week Trips - Evangelical Covenant Church

This page lists very short term mission trip opportunities both in the US and abroad. You could go to Chicago, Alaska, Duluth, MN, Cromwell, CT, Jonesville, VA or go internationally to Taiwan, South Africa, Mexico, Colombia, Japan, China, Russia and elsewhere.

There are a lot of great opportunities to help people.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

theultrarev's YouTube videos: Catalyst Covenant Church Band

Catalyst Covenant Church meets at Nottingham High School in Syracuse, NY on Sundays at 10 am. Beginning in June we'll meet weekly with a couple of weeks at Jamesville Beach and Thornden Park thrown in for fun. The Catalyst Facebook page and web site. Catalyst is an Evangelical Covenant Church.

Here's a clip of the Catalyst Band. Lousy video-work by me but a decent sounding band. The lead singers are Kelsey Kotash (left) and Ryan Issakainen (right). In the rear is Willy Bleich (left) and David Siau (right). Jim Betar is playing drums. We also see a cameo of Jeremy Kotash and Ben Collier.

Friday, May 23, 2008

25 Ways to Help a Fellow Human Being Today | Zen Habits

Another way to say this: "25 Ways to Show the Love of God in a Tangible Way." or "Servant Evangelism - ZenHabits style". My favorite two on the list are #7 and #25.
"7.Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your grandma to use email, teaching your child to ride a bike, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to clean the darn toilet. OK, that last one doesn’t count."

"25. Love. Simply finding ways to express your love to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger … just express your love. A hug, a kind word, spending time, showing little kindnesses, being friendly … it all matters more than you know."
I'm really grateful for the people in my life who go out of their way to tell or have told me they love me or show me unconditional love. I find that people do not say, "I love you." to people, who they genuinely love, enough. It's something I am working on in my personal life more and more — sometimes just awkwardly blurting it out or giving a fading out the door "Love you!". Yeah, it might be goofy but I'd rather embarrass myself now than get to the end of my life weep tears of regret for not saying it enough.

I remember going to the Stress in the Ministry seminar in Houston years ago. They taught me that you didn't even have to know someone to tell them that you love them, and that you could indeed love them without knowing just because they were a child of God and a member of the human race.

If you're reading this: I love you. God does too. xoxo.

Top 5 Web Browsers That Aren't IE, Safari, or Firefox - OMG Lists.com - When we list, the world listens- The Ultimate Pop Culture List Site!

The top five browsers not named Explorer, Safari or Firefox:



Shiira Project



I've used Opera, Shiira and Sunrise — with the last 2 being very fast despite being limited in capability. Songbird has some interesting media capabilities built-in and Flock is, of course, the web 2.0, social networking browser.

VirtueOnline: Six Million African Muslims Convert to Christianity Each Year

Christianity continues to grow in Africa: from around 1 million in 1900 to 330 million today. By contrast, Islam has shrunk. Some even suggest that Christianity is even growing faster than 6 mil per year.
"... there are now 1.5 million churches whose congregations account for 46 million people. In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed."

Quran Coming To Your Home?

VirtueOnline: Three Bishops Endorse Ca. Law..Seminaries Face Closure..Liberal Bishop to GAFCON

David Virtue reports of a group that is attempting to distribute a Quran to every homein the US.
"WANT A FREE QURAN? Coming to your doorstep soon? If you're in your front yard, working in the flower bed or chatting with a neighbor, they'll pass by silently to attach one of the bags they're carrying to your front door knob and leave without speaking or engaging you in debate. Their mission? To place a copy of the Quran in every home in the United States. "We're just trying to be honest brokers of information," Wajahat Sayeed, founder and director of Book of Signs, which is also known as the Al-Furqaan Foundation, told the Chicago Tribune. "You make your own judgment." Al-Furqaan is distributing its 378-page paperback English translation of Islam's holy book using teams of paid walkers who descend on neighborhoods, going door-to-door, much like other deliverers of newpapers and advertisements. They don't hand them directly to residents but, instead, leave them at the front door - but never on the ground. That would be disrespectful."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Real Question is 'How Will Gen Y Change the Church?'

When I was in seminary over 10 years ago, there was a plethora of articles about Gen X, how they were going to impact the economy, the church, relationships, culture, etc. Now the articles are coming about Gen Y. Here are a couple that I have read recently. Just as the church was not ready for Gen X, neither does it appear ready for Gen Y.

Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web - ReadWriteWeb ***

Generation Y Has No Culture | Pointless Banter

Why I'm Not .... By a Guy Who ....

Some of my friends have recently read or read rave reviews of the book, Why We're Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be. So I read a couple of reviews also, but haven't read the book.

Here's the part I struggle with ... can the emergent church/movement/conversant really be painted with a broad enough brush as to critique it in such a way to say, "The emerging church believes .... or says ..." or to use the term "emergent theology"? I'm just not sure there is that degree of unanimity amongst those who use the term emergent/emerging.

One might be tempted to critique the movement based on the public figures of it like McLaren, Jones, Bell and others. But I have to admit that I get really hacked when evangelicalism gets critiqued by focusing on its supposed leaders like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, McArthur (especially him, oi!), and others, who really don't represent me at all.

I'm not defending emergents. I don't think I identify with them much. I'm just not sure the critiques I've read are altogether fair.

In some ways I'm tired of Christian polemics though I see their value and necessity. I do it all the time — critiquing someone here or there. Shame on me too. I've thought I should write my book too, just for the pure profit in it. Here are some of my upcoming titles:
  • Why I'm Not Roman Catholic: By A Guy Who Was and Secretly Wishes He Still Was
  • Why I'm Not Reformed: By A Guy Who Should Be
  • Why I Still Go To Church: By A Guy Who Has Good Reason Not To
  • Why I'm Not Episcopalian: By A Guy Who Had A Good Offer To Become One


I'm listening to Dan Miller's 48 Day Podcast. Today he said, "Procrastination is a sign of hidden anger." That's not the first time I've heard that but it reminded me of how important it is as a Christian to deal with my anger.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Christians Offended By Starbucks Logo

Group finds Starbucks logo too hot to handle | StarTribune.com

At first I thought this article must be from The Onion or LarkNews but it is not. A Christian group has complained about the old Starbucks logo that has a bare chested mermaid. The level of ridiculousness of this comment is phenomenal. Insane.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Working @ Home

I experienced one of the great advantages of working at home today: my 4 y/0 burst into my office ecstatic that he could read. Ecstatic would be a vast understatement. He's euphoric. He probably only knows a couple dozen words and only knows them in the context of his reading program but he is absolutely giddy with excitement about reading.

All three of my boys learned to read using Headsprout - Phonics Based Reading Lessons Online. My older daughter was a little different. She just started reading one day. Our family could be a walking commercial for Headsprout. They love the lessons and the sense of accomplishment when they accomplish another one. Certainly it helps that we read to them nearly every single day of theirs lives and they get minimal TV, but Headsprout is a great resource.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"Uh Sorry Pope. I'm Busy."

The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. - The Presiding Bishop of TEC: Does She Know What She Is Doing?

Believe it or not, according to this article, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal was invited to meet with Pope Benedict on his recent visit to the US. She sent her regrets due to a scheduling conflict. She had more important things to do: a couple of church visits and dedicate a building.

Stop Making Your Kids Stupid With TV/DVD. Make Them Smarter with Breast Feeding.

Updating an earlier article about keeping your kid smart. Apparently breastfed kids are smarter also: Breastfeeding Associated With Increased Intelligence, Study Suggests.

So the recipe for smart kids is: when they are infants: no TV and keep them close to the breast. I thought about making a comment about the appropriateness of that plan for smarter husbands as well, but I'll keep that to myself.

businessshrink.biz: Study: Many moms are making infants dumber w/ TV & DVD’s

As my wife has said for years, "Preliterate children should not be watching TV." According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 2 should not watch ANY television.

A U of Washington study ...
"... made this claim, “The scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them."
Churches need to pay attention to how their nurseries are run.

Austic Teen Banned From Church

After warning, family of autistic teen attends different church

A 6', 225# austic 13 y/o has been banned from his Roman Catholic parish in MN. It sounds as if the parents could not control his behavior and the church could not tolerate it any longer. That's got to be a hard decision to make.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lectio Divina

I'm going to do a little Lectio Divina with some junior high students on retreat at Mission Meadows this weekend. I like Lectio because it puts the emphasis of God speaking instead of me speaking. Below I've pasted the brief outline that I'll use for a group Lectio exercise.

Listening for the Gentle Touch of Christ the Word
  • One person reads aloud (twice) the passage of scripture, as others are attentive to some segment that is especially meaningful to them.
  • Silence for 1-2 minutes. Each hears and silently repeats a word or phrase that attracts. Underline or circle that word or phrase.
  • Sharing aloud: [A word or phrase that has attracted each person]. A simple statement of one or a few words. No elaboration.

How Christ the Word speaks to ME
  • Second reading of same passage by another person.
  • Silence for 2-3 minutes. Reflect on “Where does the content of this reading touch my life today?” “How does this word relate to me?”
  • Sharing aloud: Briefly: “I hear, I see...”

What Christ the Word Invites me to DO
  • Third reading by still another person.
  • Silence for 2-3 minutes. Journal a prayer to God.
  • Reflect on “I believe that God wants me to . . . . . . today/this week.”
  • Sharing aloud: at somewhat greater length the results of each one’s reflection. [Be especially aware of what is shared by the person to your right.]
  • After full sharing, pray for the person to your right.
  • Note: Anyone may “pass” at any time. If instead of sharing with the group you prefer to pray silently, simply state this aloud and conclude your silent prayer with “Amen”.
Several minutes of silence to rest in the Lord's presence.

Here's a Lectio Divina resource: Accepting The Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Glenn Palmberg's 2008 Great Lakes Conference Annual Meeting Presentation

Evangelical Covenant Church President, Glenn Palmberg, made a presentation at the 2008 Great Lakes Conference Annual Meeting. The Conference office sent out notice of it's limited availability via an FTP site. I'm making it widely available here: Glenn Palmberg GLC 2008 Annual Meeting Presentation

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Need to Waste Some Time?

Go here: Color Wars 2008 � Youngme / Nowme. Pictures of people when they were young and of them now. Many of them in identical poses, outfits and locations in both pictures.

ABC News: Where Would Jesus Drink?

Did anyone watch ABC Nightline's clip about a church in Sydney, OH that meets in a bar and has a country/western theme? A great story of bringing the Gospel to the people who need it.

VIDEO: ABC News: Where Would Jesus Drink?
STORY: ABC News: Where Would Jesus Drink?

Obviously, ABC is not a religious station but I am impressed with how Nightline covers religious stories in general, but evangelical stories in particular. They're generally fair, positive and balanced — not afraid to ask difficult questions but not afraid to say something positive.

Another Prayer Book Resource

Orthodox Anglican Prayer Book + Priest's Manual

I don't have a lot of details about this prayer book and priest's manual. I saw it linked at VirtueOnline.org. The brief description of the priest's manual said, "The services are in modern English and are brief and follow the 1549 rubric. Additional prayers are included for use by the priest in his discretion."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When Polygamy Is Just

VirtueOnline: NIGERIA: Anglican Church Bans Polygamy

The Most Reverend Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, recently made a public denouncement of polygamy, which has been a problem from time to time in the African Anglican church. While the African Anglicans have been outspoken against the doctrinal innovations of the Episcopal Church regarding the affirmation of homosexuality, many of the Episcopalians have charged back about the polygamy within the Anglican Church.

Akinola acknowledges, "Sadly, sometimes, even our leadership has looked the other way on this matter."

I have heard that some of the polygamy within the African Anglican Church was from Muslim and tribal converts to Christianity, who already had multiple wives prior to converting. The article doesn't mention that Akinola addressed this specific situation. What about a convert to Christianity who has had multiple wives and fathered children with them? Should he just divorce all except one? Essentially that would leave the others unprotected, destitute and fatherless. What is just in this situation? Seemingly .... polygamy is just.

Can you think of other options for these families? Please comment.

I wonder what it is like for churches and parents to happily raise their children in a polygamous family, yet disciple them to believe that polygamy is wrong. That must be challenging.

Ultra Rev on Tour This Weekend

I have the great privilege of being the speaker at the Great Lakes Conference Junior High Retreat at Mission Meadows this weekend. MM is one of my favorite places on the globe.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Second Life Used For Marketing & Company Meetings

So I read a couple of articles recently about Second Life being used for purposes beyond game / role playing.

BusinessWeek: The (Virtual) Global Office Companies are using SL for staff meetings, leadership training and get togethers for staff that are around the globe or widely dispersed and it's difficult for them to gather. It is being used to create a sense of community.

Teenagers to take embarrassing ailments to Second Life doctors || The Guardian "Spanish health authorities launched a virtual portal through the Second Life website yesterday designed to help young people too embarrassed to speak to a doctor about sexually transmitted disease or a drug problem.

Real doctors will log on and offer advice to their anonymous patients. What both will see is an image of a consulting room with a doctor and a typical patient."

Of course all this began to prompt my interest in how the church utilizes SL, which seems to be in a very limited way at this point. Making the big splash with is is LifeChurch.tv which has a SL virtual campus (see an intro video below). I also found a SL Anglican service.

LifeChurch.tv Second Life Promo

The First Anglican Church Service in Second Life

Is virtual church an option for you? Do you think anyone might attend a virtual church and because of that experience possibly get involved in a real church? Do they need to attend a actual church to be a follower of Christ or is attending a virtual church enough? I suppose if one was going to feed the poor, we would want to feed the actual poor not the virtual poor.

I wonder if you could hold a Second Life Alpha Course or Bible Study?

UPDATE: The SL Anglican Church has a web site.

I'm Reelin'

Today was a good Mother's Day. Church was good. My wife was happy with her clean van. My mother was happy with the flowers we planted. And I am happy. I bought a nice Pinot Noir for dinner. AND ...

I bought a new lawn mower — a reel mower. I have wanted one of these for the longest time. I have these romantic memories of mowing my grandmother's yard for her when I was a kid with her reel mower — a heavy, cast iron machine.

It didn't make sense to get one up in Black River where we had 1.23 acres and I had John Deere tractor love. Now I live in the Village of Liverpool and the tractor doesn't make sense. So I have a reel mower — the spinning blade kind. No gas. No pull start. No exhaust. No noise. Just push and go with a pleasant little whir.

My boys were in awe. A direct quote, "Dad! This is the best mower in the universe." They couldn't get enough of it tonight. We mowed in the dark. No telling what the lawn will look like in the morning.

But I'm happy today. Reel happy.

American Lawn Mower Co.
Model #1415-16

Full Feature / Light
  • 4 Spider 5 Blade, BALL BEARING Reel
  • Tempered Alloy Steel Reel and Bed Knife Blade
  • Unbreakable Steel Side Plate
  • 1' Welded Torsion Tube Frame Assembly
  • Cutting Height .5' to 2.25' with Adjustable 4-Section Roller
  • Wheel Height Adjustable in 3 Positions
  • Powder Coated Handle with Flared-Type Design
  • Cushioned Handle Grips
  • 10' Durable Composite Wheels with Radial Tread Tire
  • 2.75' Molded Hub Caps
  • Model No. 1415-16
  • Cutting Width 16'
  • Shipping Weight: 25lbs., 1.96 cu. ft.

David Virtue Addresses Wisconsin Chapter of American Anglican Council

One of my daily reads is VirtueOnline.org, an Anglican news source led by David Virtue. Mr. Virtue and his web site is the Matt Drudge and the DrudgeReport for the Anglican world. More than anyone else he has a pulse on the crisis in the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. If you have followed this soap opera at all, this video will be of interest to you.

"David Virtue, author, journalist and founder of VirtueOnline.org speaks before a local Wisconsin chapter of of the American Anglican Council on the subjects of Lambeth 2008, GAFCON and the continuing saga of the worldwide Anglican Communion."

Charles Spurgeon at Prayer

Pastor Bill Anthes preached with unbridled passion this morning regarding the Holy Spirit in celebration of Pentecost Sunday. After the service was over I went and stole some of Bill's sermon notes and copied this quote about Spurgeon that also had one of his prayers.
"Each time he climbed into the pulpit, Spurgeon could be heard saying, 'I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Holy Spirit.' This is how he prayed:

O God. send us the Holy Ghost! Give us both the breath of spiritual life and the fire of unconquerable zeal. O Thout art our God, answer by fire, we pray Thee! Answer us both by wind and fire, and then we shall see Thee to be God indeed. The kingdom comes not, and the work is flagging. Oh, that Thou wouldst send the wind and the fire! Thou wilt do this when we are all of one accord, all believing, all expecting, all prepared by prayer.

Lord, bring us to this waiting state! God, send us a season of glorious disorder. Oh, for a sweep of the wind that will set the seas in motion, and make our ironclad brethren now lying so quietly at anchor, to roll from stem to stern! Oh, for the fire to fall again — fire which shall affect the most stolid! Oh, that such fire might first sit upon the disciples, and then fall all around! O God, Thou art ready to work with us today even as Thou didst then. Stay not, we beseech Thee, but work at once.

Break down every barrier that hinders the incoming of Thy might! Give us now both hearts of flame and tonuges of fire to preach Thy reconciling word, for Jesus' sake! Amen!"

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Welcome to the Land of the Ultra Rev

According to Google Analytics, my blog traffic has grown substantially in the past few months, and even more so in the past week averaging nearly 80 visitors a day. Thank you for stopping by. Here's a little information about me ...

I've been married to my fantastic wife for 17 years. We have 5 brilliant, beautiful, wonderful kids that we home school who can't keep their rooms clean. I love being a husband and dad, and going to Little League.

I attend Catalyst Church, a new church plant in Syracuse, NY that meets at Nottingham High School. Mike Mazzye is our pastor.

I currently work as a Festival Director, arranging large evangelistic events for an evangelistic association. I am ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church having served First Covenant Church in Willoughby Hills, OH; however, most recently I served as an associate pastor at an Episcopal Church in Watertown, NY. I live in Liverpool, NY, having moved here from Black River, NY.

This blog consists of my various ramblings about theology, culture, my family & life and sometimes wine. Whilst I am mostly evangelical in theology, evangelical culture drives me crazy sometimes and so I often like to poke fun at it. I am extremely concerned about the state of the church in the United States. I also blog about the current Anglican crisis and the nonsensical organization called the Episcopal Church. I like to blog about God at work in my life. I have offended people on occasion and have been known to delete or change entries when the offended asks.

I'm passionate about marriage and family ministries, evangelism, giving away the Bible, church planting, upstate New York State, the Evangelical Covenant Church, the Anglican Communion, good coffee, fantasy baseball and football, my friends and family. I'm a huge fan of the Anglican Mission in America.

I own a lot of Macintosh computers ... about 20. My very favorite is my PowerBook Duo 270c with docking station. ( Thank you DRH.) But also I like my 6 iMac's, my eMac, my iBook and my PowerBook WallStreet Edition that I accidentally ran over.

On the side bars of this blog you'll find various ministries I'm passionate about, some blogger friends, a list of the places I've been over the past few years, links to my outdated .Mac site and my YouTube site and my other interests like OpenSource software and self help sites, as my life generally needs a lot of help. You'll also see some of my favorite artwork by William Bouguereau.

Why "theultrarev"?

Here's the deal ... In the Anglican Church, they have various titles for varying callings within the church.

If you are a Deacon, you are called "Deacon ..." or "The Rev. ..."
If you are an Archdeacon, you are called "The Venerable ..."
If you are a Priest you are called "The Rev."
If you are a Dean of a cathedral or district, you are "The Very Rev."
If you are a Bishop, you are "The Right Rev."
If you are the Presiding Bishop, you are "The Most Rev." and you can also be called a "Primate" or "Archbishop"

I just didn't want to be out done. When I was a pastor in Ohio I used to irreverently refer to myself as The Most Rev. Then one kind man in my church, whom I love and miss dearly, Ed Palmer, started sending me mail addressed to "The Ultra Rev. ..." and it stuck. So now I am the Bishop of My Desk, which is a relatively small diocese that I have a great deal of difficulty managing with one cantankerous clergyman.

I am considering a promotion to The Supreme Rev.

Thanks for visiting The Land of the Ultra Rev. Comments are encouraged.

Is This The Future of Churchgoing in the US?

ENGLAND: Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour

UK population: approximately 58 mil.
UK church attendance: 4 mil (at least 1x / mo)

The article is slightly confusing about which churches are actually growing but essentially they are evangelical Baptists and other independent denominations. "One small area of growth is in Northern Ireland, where the enthusiasm of Pentecostals and other independents has led to a slight increase in numbers of churches - a trend expected to continue to 2050." The Orthodox church is also mentioned as growing.

Here's the sad news that must have John & Charles Wesley rolling over in their graves, "By 2050 there will be just 3,600 churchgoing Methodists left in Britain". The same is true for Presbyterians. Most of the Methodist and Presbyterian parishioners are over 65. Which leads me to think about something else I blogged about recently: if there is a pandemic in the UK it may very well wipe out at least a couple entire denominations.

By contrast my beloved Evangelical Covenant Church continues its steady growth pattern. By 2050 the ECC will likely dominate the Church of England.

Interesting quote:
"The report makes it clear that Christianity is becoming a minority religion. It also reflects the changing nature of religious practice worldwide and will further aid the stated aim of the Prince of Wales who, on his Coronation, hopes to become Defender of Faith rather than Defender of the Faith."

Churches in Western Pennsylvania

Just want to go on record today that I love working with the churches and people in Western Pennsylvania. These are fantastic, humble people with a huge heart for God and passion to see their community come to know Jesus. Beyond that they are just genuinely nice, warm, caring people to work with who get the job done.

And to top it off they have the best professional football team ever. GO STEELERS!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Church Security. No More Ushers Collecting Offerings.

Is nothing sacred?

Churches across the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney have gone to using security firms to collect offerings from parishioners. Churches there are targets of vandalism and robbery.

Imagining 2050

Imagining the tech world in 2050 | Outside the Lines - CNET News.com
This article gathers some speculation on technological advances from 5 IBM scientists who ponder the future. Some guesses? Algae converted in fuel. Clean water and energy for the whole globe. Nanotechnology pharmacies within us. Regenerative medicine. And the last is very interesting: Collective Intelligence.
"He described collective intelligence as lots of piles of data, much gleaned from a ubiquity of sensors that have to be stitched together and put in context. In 2050, collective intelligence is your personal digital agent, locating and telling you what you need, he said."
I wonder if collective intelligence will have the ability to assess and communicate that you need God in your life and be able to locate Him.

Who Dies First ... or Who is Neglected First?

Who should MDs let die in a pandemic? Report offers answers

Did you ever have to play that game where there are 10 (or however many) people in a boat and only room for nine and someone has to get thrown overboard ... who will it be? Apparently people really play that game in real life.

What if there was a pandemic with more people to be treated than was possible and/or more than there was medicine for, who would be treated first and who would be neglected first? Physicians along with Homeland Security, the CDC and others (no religious leaders or ethicists listed) came up with a list of who should not get lifesaving care first if care needed to be rationed. It's a list that is recommended to hospitals and in theory every health care institution should follow it to provide uniform care. Here's the list:
  • People older than 85.
  • Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.
  • Severely burned patients older than 60.
  • Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.
  • Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.
Interesting that this would break federal health care laws regarding age discrimination and "If followed to a tee, such rules could exclude care for the poorest, most disadvantaged citizens who suffer disproportionately from chronic disease and disability".

So it appears that how you care for yourself now will effect your health care choices during pandemic. Don't create yourself a "severe chronic disease".

How will the church respond? Will we sacrifice our well being for the wellness of others and be a witness to the love of God? Or will we be first in line? And is one a more Biblical option than the other? I heard a sermon recently about Christians who lived in the Roman Empire that when a pandemic hit a village or city, the Christians stayed and cared for the sick while the wealthy left. When the wealthy returned and saw what the Christians had done, many were converted to Christ. I wonder what the Christian witness will be during a pandemic in our times.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Quote of the Day from Lauren Issakainen

"Exhausted before I had children was just really just lazy."

Catalyst Church -- Preview Service II

So today was our second preview service for Catalyst Church. What an incredible ride today was. I arrived 7:35 am -- about a half our late. As I pulled up to Nottingham HS I see the whole crowd out in front. No staff person arrived to even open the doors until 7:40 am. And when we got inside the place was a sty. No one had cleaned up from the dance recital the night before. Dirty floors. Filthy bathrooms. Bobbie pins and safety pins everywhere -- especially in our children's area! Piles of empty boxes and trash.

Our fantastic, fabulous team had it clean and set-up by 9:30 am. Incredible. Special kudos to Elisha Awad and Kelly Esposito for their bathroom cleaning. More kudos to Matt for stealing communion cups. Even more kudos to Melanie Emery for running Media Shout for the first time ever today. And even more kudos to Sarah Benedict who cleaned, vacuumed, set-up tables and chairs, prepared the communion elements, served communion, brought people and probably did several other things that nobody knew about.

And we had nearly 100 people again today and not all the same people as last time. A lot of positive vibe. God is good.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Revival in Lakeland, FL?

Lakeland Revival Attracting National Attention

The Tampa-Bay Tribune is reporting about a series of revival meetings that were supposed to last 5 days but have lasted a month and are gathering thousands of people daily. They are moving from a church building to community center to now the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers: Joker Marchant Stadium. These meetings are characterized by miracles and healings.

The evangelist is Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries from Canada.

Here's a report of the kind of thing happening there:
Young Girl Goes to Heavenly Surgery Room; Receives Healing From Crippling Diseases

Blogger, church planter and pastor, Steve Hickey gives a good rebuke to those like Hank Hannergraf (mentioned in the Tampa Tribune article above) who are standing in judgment of what is happening there.