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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spiritual Lessons From Unemployment - Part 1: I'm Really Not Poor

I've been on a long, mind boggling journey in the world of under-employment.  Absolutely nothing has worked out.  I've been offered three jobs that were later rescinded due to loss of funding because of the economic downturn of the last year.  I've been offered several multilevel marketing opportunities to sell insurance, internet access, digital phone service, energy drinks and juice.  I've also been offered opportunities that don't pay anything, where I would have to 'raise my own support'.  I've become a full participant in the welfare state which doesn't bode well for my future as a Libertarian. I have applied for dozens of positions, in and out of my field, without success.

So now I work on an "as needed" basis as a private investigator, fill pulpits for colleagues, teach seminars at churches and continue to pray fiercely for work.

It has been both faith building and humiliating.  I'm inspired and embarrassed.  I've learned a great deal and grown deeper in my faith and trust in God.  And I have decided to blog about it.  Here is lesson one:

Even when I had work prior to being laid off, the US government said I was below the poverty line and I qualified for government assistance. In other words, they said I was poor. Despite being "poor" I have two vehicles, an enormous house with heat, clean clothes every day, safe water in the house and enough food to eat daily — so much so, that I'm slightly overweight.

My first lesson learned was one I already knew but needed a reminder of: despite the US government's assessment of my situation, I'm really not that poor. It's difficult to remember that some days. Even with no job and receiving benefits from the welfare system, I am still in the top 5% of richest people on the globe.  How rich are you?  Check out the Global Rich List and put in your income. No job but I still have an income and friends and food pantries.  I am really so blessed.  I am not poor.  Despite the fact that I meet the US government's standards for being impoverished, I am not poor.  I am blessed with abundance. Even without an income, I still have a positive net worth.

I'm not poor.  If you live in the US, it's not likely that you are either.


A series of lessons and observations I have learned from my experience of being underemployed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roger Olson: Arminian Theology

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Ultra Rev Recommends ...

You simply must read JP Moreland's book, Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit's Power, and be challenged. I can't recommend this book enough, especially if you have a long history in evangelicalism.  This is not light reading but is worth plowing through.  I just finished it and was immediately brought to prayer.  Thanks Dr. Moreland.

You Know You Want To ...

The Anglican Church in North America — Church Locator

You know you want to. You've been thinking about hooking up with and having a torrid love affair with a beautifully liturgical Anglican Church. Find one here.

Psalm 126

I love Psalm 126. I believe I will be one who will be singing the words of this Psalm as if they were my very own, as my own life's fortunes are restored and I leave the desert. Hallelujah!

Psalm 126 (New International Version)

Psalm 126

A song of ascents.
 1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
       we were like men who dreamed.  2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
       our tongues with songs of joy.
       Then it was said among the nations,
       "The LORD has done great things for them."
 3 The LORD has done great things for us,
       and we are filled with joy.
 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
       like streams in the Negev.
 5 Those who sow in tears
       will reap with songs of joy.
 6 He who goes out weeping,
       carrying seed to sow,
       will return with songs of joy,
       carrying sheaves with him.

Churches Suffer At The Hands of the FCC

Churches Suffer Losses Under New FCC Rule

It appears that will suffer some financial hardship if they have to replace their wireless mic equipment because the FCC no longer allows them to use the 700 mhz band.  The FCC may be selling off even more space and possibly affecting even more churches.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Benny Hinn's Stand for Jesus


Sounds like Benny wants to punch Joel Osteen's lights out.

And inadvertently, Benny takes a shot at Bill Hybels also, ripping "seeker churches".  In some ways it's comical that Benny is trying to take a hard stand for the Gospel, when he's also the guy who has been quoted as saying there are nine gods in Christianity.

As creepy as this guy is, with as crazy theology as he has, there are still people genuinely healed at his events. I've met them. That's why people drive for miles to go see him.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ed Stetzer Quote on Discipleship

Listening to a couple Ed Stetzer clips where he is discussing discipleship and the lack of participation in ministry by many disciples.  Ed says,  "The greatest sin in most churches is that we've made it OK to sit there week after week and do nothing and call yourself a follower of Jesus." 

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's My Birthday!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Emotionally Healthy People and Churches

I've been having conversations with smart people lately about the interconnectedness of spiritual and emotional health, and spent some time mining the riches of the Emotionally Healthy web site.  Pastor Pete Scazzero and his wife Geri lead New Life Church in the New York City area. They give a powerful testimony of have great success in ministry but also having their lives falling apart because of their emotional dysfunction. To address this they have begun using, amongst other things, the Daily Office, Sabbath and a Rule of Life — ancient Christian practices.  They have quite a number of free downloads.

The only unfortunate thing is that they have partnered with Willowcreek to package and produce their DVD's, curriculum, etc. Yeah, it looks pretty and sure, maybe it will reach a wider audience but for me, honestly, as soon as that happens it tells me they really aren't serious about widespread transformation.

Ministries that are serious about expanding the Kingdom and transforming lives, give as much of their stuff as possible away -- for free.  Yes I'm serious.  I just can't help think that one day we'll come face-to-face with the Lord and He'll hold us accountable.  He gives us great insight and understanding for His church and we charge people to receive it thereby limiting the number of people it is accessible to.  I've been thinking this over and I'm just not convinced it will go over well with Him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


An Outline of the FACTS of Arminianism vs. The TULIP of Calvinism | Society of Evangelical Arminians

Linked is a succinct comparison of two Biblical positions that are frequently held in contrast to each other. Those two positions are Arminianism and Calvinism. Calvinism is the rage these days for which I am a little grateful. As it has been so popular there has been a plethora of articles, sermons, mp3's, etc. on the topic. As I have listened to them, they have helped me clarify that I am really a classical Arminian and not the least bit a Calvinist.

If the whole discussion of the two positions is murky for you, give the linked article above a quick read. It's succinct.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day Prayers and Collects

Saint Patrick's Day Prayers and Collects
Almighty God,
who in your providence chose your servant Patrick
to be the apostle of the Irish people,
to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error
to the true light and knowledge of you:
Grant us so to walk in that light,
that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and ever.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Non-criminal Youth Pastor Scares Neighborhood

Police swoop in on church’s video shoot - thestar.com

Hilarious. A youth pastor was making a film with scene of armed robbers using toy guns and walking down a city street. He never phoned police in case he might alarm the community ... which he did ... who then called the police ... who arrived armed themselves with real guns for a take down.

Oh, the exciting life of youth ministry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Feast of the Annunciation is Coming

The Annunciation 25 March NT

Just in case you don't have your sermon ready for Mar 21st or 28th, the Feast of the Annunciation is coming on March 25.  Many churches read the nativity story where the Angel appears to Mary and announces her pregnancy during Advent, but really it belongs here in March — 9 months earlier.  Of course we are assuming that the Angel announced it at the beginning of her pregnancy but that's probably a safe assumption.

You can hear my sermon from last year:  The First Disciple.

Interesting Stuff From Twitter

I don't Twitter yet and for as tech savvy as I am, I most ignore Twitter — until this week.  Brad recently linked to AtlasGC (AtlasGC) on Twitter — which is the Atlas for Global Christianity, apparently an interesting compendium of stats.  Here is some of what they Twittered so far:
  1. In Yemen, 10% of the population listens to Christian radio.
  2. In 2010 the world’s 4,000 Christian radio and television stations reach 510 million persons monthly with Christian programming.
  3. Since its origin in 1921, Christian broadcasting has reached more people per hour than any other variety of evangelism.
  4. Only 0.3% of total Christian expenditure is actually directed towards unevangelised non-Christians.
  5. Much of the money given for foreign missions is spent on work among Christians.
  6. Annual embezzlement from Christian ministries of $35 billion exceeds the global Church’s foreign mission expenditures of $32 billion.
  7. Salaries and education together claim another 29% of total church and parachurch expenditures.
  8. Administration accounts for 29% of all church and parachurch expenditures.
  9. Almost 97% of church and parachurch income is used by Christians for their own needs.
  10. In 1910 nearly 90% of all Christian income was denominational. In 2010 parachurch agencies receive some 64% of all Christian income.
  11. Nearly half of all Church income is received by the Roman Catholic tradition, which has the most adherents.
  12. In the 1960s Roman Catholic missionary endeavours were profoundly challenged by the Second Vatican Council (1962–5).
  13. The Philippines today is about 90% Christian (majority Roman Catholics) as a result of Spanish missions since the 16th century.
  14. The Roman Catholic Church exerts an important influence on many aspects of Polish life, and church attendance levels are high.
  15. The Charismatic movement within the Catholic Church claims over 20% of all Catholics in South America, now the leading region in the world.
  16. Catholicism in Egypt is the most liturgically diverse of any country in the world.
  17. Approximately half of the world’s Christians were Catholics at the beginning of the 21st century, and half of those were in the Americas.
  18. Non-Christians in Asia are more isolated from Christians than in any other continent in the world.
  19. Almost half of all Asian languages are less than 2% Christian.
And there is a plethora many that is absolutely fascinating.  So the Atlas GC is my first Twitter feed that I actually follow.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Missional Church video

I wonder what the next trend is after "missional". Everything is missional, missional, missional, missional these days. Not that I don't appreciate the philosophical and theological thinking behind the term. In fact I use it myself and not pejoratively. But I admit to being a little dulled to the word as I read and hear it tossed about nearly constantly. As we have this constant conversation about what missional is, what it means and its imperatives — again, all very important conversations — I often reflect on the fact that we weren't have missional conversations when I was in seminary or in my first pastorate (or we were and didn't know to call it that, [certainly Corey probably was]), and we probably won't be having missional conversations ten years from now, all making me feel, "How important is this missional conversation anyways?"

Still ... I'd like to plant a missional church.  Any one to join me?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

George F. Will: Immature Men Won't Grow Up - George F. Will - Newsweek.com

George F. Will: Immature Men Won't Grow Up - George F. Will - Newsweek.com

Fascinating article by George Will on the perpetual immaturity of men in our culture.  How do we articulate the gospel to them?  How do we disciple them?  Will they be a generation that is skipped and never become leaders in the church?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Cohabitation Not Helpful

Secrets of Marriage: CDC Survey on Marriage and Cohabitation - ABC News

 For some reason, the US government studied the effect on cohabitation on the long term (10 years) prospects of marriage and discovered what has already been known: it has a negative impact, though slightly so.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

FREE Music & Software and Other of My Favorite Random Stuff

I've had a tough time blogging lately. Engrossed in my genealogy work and other quests, my blog has suffered. So much out there I want to comment on with 176 drafts saved, but really struggling to get posts out right now.  Been through this before and I'll be getting my groove on again soon.

So here are some random links of stuff that interests me.

Google Chrome Continues to Grow at Other Browsers' Expense: Internet Explorer will be meeting it's demise sooner rather than later as YouTube will be dropping support for it. You ought to drop your support for it even sooner.

15 Must-Have Free Apps For Your Mac + Giveaway: a good apps list.

Mark your iCal: New date for Biblical rapture May 21, 2011: Seriously? Will we ever see an end to the the supposedly brilliant biblical "scholar" who has figured out the date of Jesus Christ's return? Lord have mercy.

College students urged: Trade Bible for Playboy: Yep. Trade in your Bible, Koran or other holy scripture for porn at the Univ. of Texas at San Antonio. Compliments of an atheist group.

On Genesis 2 and 3 | The BioLogos Foundation: "In this video conversation, N.T. Wright talks about the story presented in Genesis 2 and 3 and offers some important insights on the functionality of the text that in many ways transcends its literal narrative."

Op-Ed Columnist - Learning From the Sin of Sodom - NYTimes.com: NYT op-ed piece on the changing role of evangelicals as social justice leaders.

HM-Music: My beloved friend Heather Buettner Humphrey and her friend Tom have posted some of their original music. Extremely talented.

Anglican1000: Site updated and looking sharp. Recently held a very successful church planters conference with Ed Stetzer as a presenter. Notes from Ed's talk are here: (VirtueOnline—PLANO, TX: Church Missiologist Urges Anglicans to Plant a Thousand New Churches). I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot of them in the near future.

Syracuse trying to tax closed Catholic churches for the first time |: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse continues to consolidate parishes because of it's declining attendance, but mostly because of it's rapidly aging and shrinking priesthood. As the buildings go up for sale and are no longer used for liturgical or ministry purposes, the city of Syracuse wants to start taxing the properties.