Friday, November 4, 2016

Ranting about Pan Handlers



www.thevirtualpew.com
My rant for the day:

Okay don't take what I am about to say wrong as I know many will, but read through what I have to say first.

First, anyone doubting or not knowing of my love, passion, desire to help the down and out, the homeless, abused, hurting of this world, obviously knows nothing about me, or my past.

Yesterday I saw a post from a friend talking about giving a pan-handler money. Don't get me wrong, I have given to them as well in the past, but very seldom and to this day, very seldom do because I know, more times than not that money goes to support an alcohol and or drug habit, even if buying food, it allows them to use other monies to support habits. I seriously question the actions of some that allow one to continue in their addictions. I also know how much money pan-handlers can make, far more than I and or other working people. I also know, that in many cases, it is a scam and frankly, also in most communities, illegal.

Again, don't get me wrong I have given but I have to feel very strongly in my gut (for the non Christian reading) and strongly in my Spirit, (for other reading who are followers of Jesus.) 

Here is my concern, when we give in ways we don't know of how the gift will benefit the person, there is a high risk that we are doing two things, one is helping the addiction which keeps the person in need, and the other is taking away possible funding for agencies and people who are there to help people and frankly, need the finances.I challenge, if giving, find an agency making a difference and give to them so they can help in the best ways possible, but even here, check the agency out. I can name two specific agencies in my town who are themselves not using the money for the purposes they state and have areas of concern that would have me not ever giving to them. I also know of individuals, both Christian and not, doing a great job who could use the money, I would recommend to even give money to those individuals and private groups if having issues with larger agencies. Just remember, there are smaller agencies, like The Virtual Pew and Mosaic, along with many churches and others who are doing great jobs.

www.mosaicwichita.comThis hit home hard recently because the organizations I run, The Virtual Pew and Mosaic helps house individuals in need of housing, either the abused, the hurting, the homeless, or those seeking to come together to help grow spiritually with a focus, on helping with the above mentioned areas. This week I had applications for 3 persons to come into our program, one of them a couple who happens to be homeless.  Yet, we had to go on line again, to ask for money. We get very little from the church organizations, or Christians, or for that matter, even many of the providers who see benefit in a number of things, as opposed to actually helping some, obtain housing.  My wife and I have literally emptied our retirement and savings accounts to keep this program going, don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about that, but wonder, have we as a society gotten to the place that we see more value in helping people stay homeless as opposed to helping them get back on their feet and accomplish their hopes and dreams.

Matthew 25: 1 - 42 is a great chapter of scripture. Many who want to help others choose to identify with this passage, especially the 31 - 42 part, unfortunately we seem to all but ignore the 1 - 30 part.  The part which speaks about the responsibility of the giver and receiver.  I challenge folks to read that, with the understanding that 1 - 30 speaks specifically about the one receiving the gift, and 31 - 42 about the responsibility of the one giving th  Read it, again, think about it, and then, think about how you can best use your gift to help others who really need it, and will do with it what God would expect for them to do with it.

Matthew 25
Contemporary English Version (CEV)
www.thevirtualpew.com



1 The kingdom of heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom. 2 Five of the girls were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps, but no extra oil. 4 The ones who were wise took along extra oil for their lamps.



5 The groom was late arriving, and the girls became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 Then in the middle of the night someone shouted, “Here’s the groom! Come to meet him!”



7 When the girls got up and started getting their lamps ready, 8 the foolish ones said to the others, “Let us have some of your oil! Our lamps are going out.”



9 The girls who were wise answered, “There’s not enough oil for all of us! Go and buy some for yourselves.”



10 While the foolish girls were on their way to get some oil, the groom arrived. The girls who were ready went into the wedding, and the doors were closed. 11 Later the other girls returned and shouted, “Sir, sir! Open the door for us!”



12 But the groom replied, “I don’t even know you!”



13 So, my disciples, always be ready! You don’t know the day or the time when all this will happen.



14 The kingdom is also like what happened when a man went away and put his three servants in charge of all he owned. 15 The man knew what each servant could do. So he handed five thousand coins to the first servant, two thousand to the second, and one thousand to the third. Then he left the country.



16 As soon as the man had gone, the servant with the five thousand coins used them to earn five thousand more. 17 The servant who had two thousand coins did the same with his money and earned two thousand more. 18 But the servant with one thousand coins dug a hole and hid his master’s money in the ground.



19 Some time later the master of those servants returned. He called them in and asked what they had done with his money. 20 The servant who had been given five thousand coins brought them in with the five thousand that he had earned. He said, “Sir, you gave me five thousand coins, and I have earned five thousand more.”



21 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”



22 Next, the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, “Sir, you gave me two thousand coins, and I have earned two thousand more.”



23 “Wonderful!” his master replied. “You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!”



24 The servant who had been given one thousand coins then came in and said, “Sir, I know that you are hard to get along with. You harvest what you don’t plant and gather crops where you haven’t scattered seed. 25 I was frightened and went out and hid your money in the ground. Here is every single coin!”



26 The master of the servant told him, “You are lazy and good-for-nothing! You know that I harvest what I don’t plant and gather crops where I haven’t scattered seed. 27 You could have at least put my money in the bank, so that I could have earned interest on it.”



28 Then the master said, “Now your money will be taken away and given to the servant with ten thousand coins! 29 Everyone who has something will be given more, and they will have more than enough. But everything will be taken from those who don’t have anything. 30 You are a worthless servant, and you will be thrown out into the dark where people will cry and grit their teeth in pain.”



31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all of his angels, he will sit on his royal throne. 32 The people of all nations will be brought before him, and he will separate them, as shepherds separate their sheep from their goats.



33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. 35 When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, 36 and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.”



37 Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? 38 When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear 39 or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”



40 The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”



41 Then the king will say to those on his left, “Get away from me! You are under God’s curse. Go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 I was hungry, but you did not give me anything to eat, and I was thirsty, but you did not give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear. I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me.”



44 Then the people will ask, “Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?”



45 The king will say to them, “Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.”



46 Then Jesus said, “Those people will be punished forever. But the ones who pleased God will have eternal life.”


The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me, there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

You can also order the book at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and so forth. It is available via e-book for .99 Cents or if having a way to download, can download the full audiobook at soundcloud.com and simply going to Mike Furches / The Keystone Kid. The audio version of the book is available for a free download.

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

Hopefully, you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News



Friday, August 26, 2016

Being Challenged To Be More Like Jesus, St. Nicholas Cabasailas



www.thevirtualpew.com
This one may be a little long so unless you are willing to seriously contemplate the thought expressed in this, the questions asked, don't waste your time, but, if you, like I, like to be challenged, this is a must read.

Last night I attended The Eighth Day Institute's Hall of Men.  A meeting that reminds me a lot of  J.R. Tolkien and CS Lewis regular gatherings to discuss theology among other things while enjoying their pipe and a cold pint, or two.  The event is largely attended by primarily Orthodox Groups. Catholic, Episcopalian, Anglican, etc..., so it can be understandably confusing that an unapologetic Anabaptist like myself would attend this gathering, yet, I find there is so much to learn, and I like to be theologically challenged at times, which this group does in a friendly, loving way.

Last night Fr. Benedict Armitage,the headmaster of Christ the Savior Academy, lead the discussion and provided some teaching on St Nicholas Cabasilas, a fourteenth-century Byzantine mystic.  There were several points that challenged me through the night, including into my dreams and still compel me to think aloud this morning as I discussed a couple of those issues and points taught/or written about by St. Nicholas Cabasailas and the natural conclusions those trains of thoughts can take one if they process it thoroughly.

www.thevirtualpew.com
Point one I am contemplating this morning: The Scripture is clear in numerous places on concepts of putting on the full image of Christ, to chase after holiness, and that it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me, yet, so many like to follow the natural progression of man to areas of conflict, without love and regard of respect for their fellow human being. I find this especially so in today's political climate, there seems to be an attitude that we find it appropriate to behave, act, speak in manners other than the one which provides a representation of Christ. If it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, or if I am to be a representative of Jesus, am I really contemplating the relationship I have with my fellow human being I am commanded to love, even my enemies?  If I refuse to make this attempt then do I in reality have a loving relationship and respect for Jesus the Christ? This is not to devalue the concept of WWJD but it is much more than that, it isn't so much about asking the question of What Would Jesus Do, but going further and attempting to be an represent who Jesus was.

There was another interesting concept though touched on by St. Nicholas Cabasailas and as was discussed last night at the Hall of Men meeting, that is this, did you ever stop to think about the reality of why is it that Jesus after the resurrection kept the wounds of the cross, and as is presented in Revelation, carries those marks into eternity?  After all, He is God He could easily remove those and provide Himself a new body, yet, He keeps those marks of the crucifixion, as brutal as they are, even in Revelation appearing as a Lamb led to slaughter?  St. Nicholas Cabasailas, believed it provided two purposes, one is an eternal reminder that the Son of God, God Himself, chose to show us his love for us by being one of us. Dying is a concept not natural to God it isn't possible for God, yet it was through becoming part man, while fully God that Christ gave Himself up to be crucified on the cross. He keeps those scars for an eternity to remind us, just like he did Thomas shortly after the resurrection, that He did indeed die, yet He also conquered death. They are an eternal reminder of His sacrifice to become one of us, to die like one of us, and ultimately to show His eternal love for all of us. It will be an eternal reminder that was culminated on the cross, for prior to His coming to this earth, Christ had a Heavenly body, and was an eternal spirit, yet now, even though He is in Heaven at the right hand of God, He carries the marks of His earthly body and the sacrifice and punishment He took to show us His ultimate love and sacrifice provided for our salvation.

I can't help but reflect on these things today, they challenge me, they challenge me to seek perfection and holiness although I know I won't obtain it until I reach Heaven, but that does not negate the love of all people, even my enemies that I am commanded to have. It doesn't negate me treating Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or their supporters the way Christ Himself would treat them if he had a one on one sit down with them.  Of course, some are still so driven by the politics of the day that they forget the Savior, King they say they are committed to. Today, I challenge you, be like Jesus, and in the attempt to be like Him, remember, He carries the marks of the cross for an eternity to show us how much He loved us.  Oh yeah, another thing I can't help but think of this morning, "If you are to be my disciple, you must take up your cross, and follow me daily."  ~ Jesus


www.thevirtualpew.com



The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me, there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

You can also order the book at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and so forth. It is available via e-book for .99 Cents or if having a way to download, can download the full audiobook at soundcloud.com and simply going to Mike Furches / The Keystone Kid. The audio version of the book is available for a free download.

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

Hopefully, you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mea Maxima Culpa: The Cover-up of Sexual Sin In The Church

www.thevirtualpew.comI just finished watching the HBO Documentary, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.  Let me be clear from the start, this is a must view for all people of faith, especially those who believe in keeping the deepest and darkest of sins secret, but also for those who believe that wrongs should never be confronted publicly and directly. 

My own life of abuse has been chronicled over the years via television, radio, a movie and my book The Keystone Kid. I know all too well the reluctance of many, even within the religious community to confront the sin of sexual abuse. Silence in the House of God (SITHG) addresses sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and the massive cover-up they present goes all of the way to the top. They chronicle abuse that has gone on for going on 2,000 years among the papacy and yet, covered up. I challenge from the outset, abuse within all religious organizations, not just the Christian Church has been going on since the conception of religion and unfortunately, has been covered up, and/or not spoken about or addressed within those organizations since its origins. Unfortunately, that concept still continues as it is my observation from research, and personal experience, not just in the area of sexual abuse though, but in any area which has people from within those religious organizations encouraging others to not speak up, to let things be, and to let the sins of many go unpunished and dealt with between the individual and God. What these people and the organizations that have let this go on for so long have either forgotten about, or simply don’t care about, is the lasting damage within the lives of those impacted by sin. This is certainly true in the areas of sin that so drastically impacts the lives of the innocents, such as sexual sin. 

www.thekeystonekid.orgWhile this is not per say intended as a review of SITHG, I will say this, this is a terrific documentary and just as I begin to have some concerns with the twists of the documentary, as to if it is showing ultimate compassion towards the victims, we are hit with a hard hitting reality of the damages and impact on the victims in a powerful conclusion. Neither though is this documentary an attack on all religions, or even for that matter, The Roman Catholic Church. We see throughout heroes who have taken to the cause of listening to, believing, trying to help the victims, even within the church. We also see though a poison within the hierarchy of the church which for many years tried to prevent the knowledge of these abuses and refused to speak out for or understand the victims of abuse. Just as within all religious groups, and frankly, all walks of life even outside of religion, there are those who would prefer to keep ones “dirty laundry,” (a term I have personally heard within my own family), within their own inner circles. SITHG does a wonderful job at showing the heartfelt impact of this mentality and the ultimate danger that comes about because of this mentality.

One of the things I often hear from those within faith circles is the need to deal with things in a certain way, or to never address sinful acts face to face and head on, even in a public way. In this regard, I will willingly admit there is a time and a place to address sin. There are specifics within the church hierarchy of Christianity as outlined in Matthew 25. It is debated though within many theological circles as to how those directives apply and if they are in fact intended as a method of addressing conflict between Christians and Non-Christians. In this regard I will state that there should be little debate as to the need of the person engaged in sinful activity to turn from their ways, to if you will, repent which implies and requires a change of behavior, a 180 Degree turn. If that does not take place then there are certainly actions which should not only take place, but be done so in a public way.

www.thevirtualpew.com
There are those who sometimes even have issues with the above mentioned methods, I will remind you, the Bible has numerous incidents of people being called out for their sinful behavior, some with specific names being listed in a scripture that is recorded for all of eternity. There is for example, no hesitation about calling out Ananias and Sapphira in Acts Chapter 5, then there is 3rd John where John addresses the attitudes and sins of Diotrephes.  These are but two of numerous examples of individuals being called out by name as to their actions and deeds. While we must make sure we are correct in our assessment and comments about others, there is a time, that if one is unwilling to walk in the correction of Christ, or in the ways of Christ, that we are to call them out, especially if what they are saying and doing is contrary to the nature of Christ and the faith of Christianity. I challenge, the lack of doing this is one of the reasons so many have turned from the church and the teachings of Christ. It is because we hide our own sin, and are so often unwilling to address the areas of sin. This should, especially at first, be done in a loving way, but it must also at times be done in an emphatic way.

One of the people I love from a historical perspective is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I love him in part for many reasons but one of my great admiration's of him was his willingness to accept the consequences of his actions, even if those actions meant spending time in jail that he was just and right to stand up for, even though it may have broken the laws of the day. We within the church and society must be willing to understand, that consequences for actions should be expected, even for those within the church or those presenting to be from the church, even in some cases, where repentance may have been made. An example here, which I write about passionately in my own book, is the consequences that come about for sexual sin.

www.thevirtualpew.comUnfortunately, in our society, in many locations there is a statute of limitations on certain aspects of sin, including sexual sin. This is sad to me because I know all too well of the lasting impact of sexual sin on an individual. Even though I am approaching 60 years of age now, the impact of the sins perpetuated against me in my very young life still linger.  They will linger in all likelihood for the duration of my life. Unfortunately, and ignorantly, many Christians say God will deliver me from those nightmares, those confusions and pains, it is my experience, that in many a God loving, fearing, and faithful people that does not happen in most cases. Yes, we get to the place we can endure, and even thrive, but that doesn’t mean the pain or memories mysteriously disappears. The thoughts and impacts on us are always there. Thus a reason to make sure that we address the sin, straight on and without compromise.  I think this is one of the reasons Jesus so strongly referenced his love for children.

There will always be something that causes people to sin. But anyone who causes them to sin is in for trouble. A person who causes even one of my little followers to sin  would be better off thrown into the ocean with a heavy stone tied around their neck.
 So be careful what you do.
~ Luke 17: 1–3a  

So Jesus called the children over to him and said, “Let the children come to me! Don’t try to stop them. People who are like these children belong to God’s kingdom.  You will never get into God’s kingdom unless you enter it like a child! Luke 18; 16,17

www.thevirtualpew.com For me the question is simple; will we as people of faith stand up for the victims of such things as sexual sin? Or, will we let the sin continue giving ever justification as to why we shouldn’t address the sin, meanwhile allowing the pain and suffering to continue among the victims, even allowing the likelihood of additional victims? We can’t be afraid to call out sin! Yes, it must, especially initially be done in a loving way with the intent to help, but our first offer of help must be to the victim of sin. It doesn’t mean we don’t love the perpetrator, but they must be, no matter what the circumstances be held accountable for their actions, especially in issues such as sexual sin. Jesus was about showing compassion in many ways, thankfully He shows the hurting, the small ones, the outcast and I could go on and on, compassion when the religious community turned their backs on those individuals. How easy it is to forget the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, or even the multitudes around Him seeking to just touch Him. Jesus was all about compassion to the hurting, for many of us, it is that compassion that drove us to His wide open arms, unfortunately, many who say they love Him cast aside the hurting, and often times the victims of abuse. I assure those victims, the rejection often felt by many who say they love Jesus is not the act or heart of Jesus, He loves you, He cares, and many who have chosen to follow Him, even in the hard things, feel the same way. Just as in the movie SITHG, there are many of us who will huddle with you, join hands and fight alongside you the injustice within our society on this issue. We know, because we know and have experienced, that Jesus would have no one cast aside that small child we all become, and remain, once abuse has entered into our psyche and life. While there are those who would not address the issue, would prefer to keep secrets, some of us know a loving and caring Christ who would have us receive the glories of His love, and experience the consequences of our actions. It is high time that many within the church, realize, that being a supposed follower of Jesus does not give us the freedom to escape the consequences of our actions, especially when they are criminal. If we allow that mentality of not addressing and experiencing the consequences of sin, then we will continue to allow perpetrators of sexual crime and sin to continue to practice and continue in that behavior. God forgive those who would do harm to a child by allowing this behavior to continue.

The following is my recent appearance on the television show Real People, Real Life where I discuss in part my own abuse and also with a guest, marital rape.  Watch it and as always, feel free to share.

To see the video simply click on the vid, if the vid isn't working, click on the following link:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjgccgAJ9iU


The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

You can also order the book at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and so forth. It is available via e-book for .99 Cents or if having a way to download, can download the full audio book at soundcloud.com and simply going to Mike Furches / The Keystone Kid. The audio version of the book is available for a free download.

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News








Monday, February 29, 2016

When Movies Do Good, A Response to the Criticism of Hollywood


I did something last night I haven’t done in several years, I sat down and watched the Academy Awards for movies made I the year 2015. 2015 was a year I had seen quite a few of the films nominated in various categories, but as is normally the case, not all of them.  The television show and some of the comments I had seen on Facebook moved me today to mention again, my thoughts about movies and the good they can do.

A number of years ago now, close to 11 as of this writing, I was taking a 10-year-old boy to the movies. The boy’s name was Tyler Graebner, he was dying of cancer. I wrote then an article that was later on used for the forward of a book on movie reviews about the good movies can do, like how they inspired Tyler who was going through chemo and radiation treatments at the time and was wearing a stocking hat to cover his bald head. The movie Fat Albert by most measures was not a great movie, but the night I took Tyler, that movie as imperfect as it was, earned a spot in my heart that will endure for my lifetime on this planet. It motivated and showed Tyler that it was okay to be bald, he had nothing to be ashamed of.

I have seen other movies that have moved me, most recently was the movie 13 Hours, it was a movie that shows that movies can provide a truth that is not always provided by politicians and the press corps that sometimes have their own agenda to drive, placing the truth sometimes in a distant second or even further back as to the intent of the stories that are written to persuade a public.  We have seen those political benefits in other places, though, places like documentary movies that show the reality of the world we live in and sometimes, the things that bring others harm.

There are other movies, though, movies like Precious, Prince of Tides, or even this year’s winner for Best Picture, Spotlight that deals with the powerful theme of child abuse. We even see movies many hate like 50 Shades of Gray that show the impact of this horrible crime.

There are other movies, though, movies like The Notebook that can show the power of love among an older couple, the impact of Alzheimer’s, then there was the documentary about Glenn Campbell, I’ll Be Me.  These types of movies can bring awareness to horrid diseases, their impact and more that can move a nation and a people to care and act to eradicate that disease.

I think of the Oscar Winner for Best Picture Shine, that can educate about the reality of a horrid disease impacting 1 out of every 10 Americans, Mental Illness.  We can see the potential, the hope, the promise, the reality that the disease often falsely presented impacts individuals with families, mothers, fathers, children, spouses, many with an incredible talent. We learn to see the potential as opposed to the false representation sometimes presented in other mediums, including, unfortunately, sometimes, film.

I could go on and on about how movies have had a positive impact on society. We seem to at times love to bash “Hollywood” whoever, and wherever Hollywood is, but we can so easily ignore the reality that there is often also much good that can and does come about from movies. As a person whose faith is important, I have also heard, first hand, Billy Graham talk about how more people have come to faith in Christ than they ever did from his crusades.

Jesus used the concept of story to teach, in fact, in the book of Mark in the Bible it says, “He never taught them anything without first telling them stories after he had told them the stories he would explain the meanings.”  I recall dear friend and former college professor Bev Holmskog illustrating that in the 1980’s movies were the most popular form of storytelling on the planet. It occurred to me then, early on, it would be more productive to find a way to use that medium to change lives, to make a difference. Later on due to the influence of dear friend David Bruce who has garnished recognition for his work in the Christian world of reviewing and finding spiritual truths in film that we could use film to find a way to build bridges to point others to truth. For me that made perfect sense, I never doubted the potential as I had I felt been given a special insight from God to see these truths and knew of the importance of using those truths when there, to point others to The Truth, Jesus.

I know, movies aren’t perfect, but neither are they the evil so many and unfortunately still in 2016, even some Christians present them to be. Where there is truth, there is the possibility to shine light, whether that be the light of justice that comes from racial prejudice and inequality or greed that can sometimes come about from a society of people who seem to care more about self-gain than they do world peace and legitimate understanding.

I have seen the power of movies in all of these areas and more, I am thankful for the light God has given me in understanding these realities, I never see a movie without asking prior to seeing it for God to show me a truth that will make my life, and the life’s of those around me better. I have found a God who is fully capable of doing that.  I pray that others will as well.  Movies are a medium that God not only can use but has used to strengthen and grow the life of the seeker who seeks to find and discover the spiritual truths provided by Jesus in their own lives.

What movies have impacted your life or the life of others you are close to?

My Own Story in Part in Film, The Long Walk, (Caution Adult Content) 


To see the film just click on the video, if the video doesn't appear, click on the following link.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10JWEVO1JYk





The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.

Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid

You can also order the book at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and so forth. It is available via e-book for .99 Cents or if having a way to download, can download the full audio book at soundcloud.com and simply going to Mike Furches / The Keystone Kid. The audio version of the book is available for a free download.

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News







Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The War On Islam In America



www.thevirtualpew.com
Let me state first of all, I am an unapologetic Christian, holding firm to what I believe to be the truths of the Bible and the concept that I believe, Jesus meant exactly what he said when he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” I also believe the Bible is correct when it says, “There is no other name under Heaven which any of us can be saved other than the name of Jesus.”  While I have issues with Radical Islam, I have strong disagreeing points of view from a religious perspective with any system of faith that prescribes to salvation offered by anyone other than Jesus. I also have serious issues with the way many who profess their faith as following Jesus who also are doing and saying the things they are regarding Muslim people.

I think it a serious mistake to not draw differences between Radical Islam and Moderate Islam in the same way I think it a serious mistake to compare all Christians to Westboro Baptist Church. It is dangerous to paint all people of faith under a single color, when in reality, there is a difference. When we paint others with a broad brush, we unfortunately include people under that color that does not fit there. I am no more a part of the same faith system of Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK than many Muslims are a part of Radical Islam. We would all serve ourselves, and our neighbors well to remember that reality.

A number of years ago I served as a volunteer pastor in the areas of Evangelism and Outreach at what was then named Westport Mennonite Brethren Church. That church, near Tulsa Oklahoma between Collinsville and Owasso sat on a corner called German Corner. It was so named because prior to World War 2 many who were a part of that church were immigrants from Russia and Germany.  During the outbreak of World War 2 many at the church still spoke German and if not mistaken, the church still had German speaking services because it was the native tongue of many at the church. You can imagine the attitudes of many within the community with the outbreak of World War 2.

Many of those in the community just like many other German Americans were dangerous to many people. These German immigrants were people who had left the persecution in Germany, to find freedom in America, they were a peace loving people, opposed to war but also understanding of the need for actions to stop Hitler.  Many Mennonites were put in internment camps in America, just as were many Japanese due to a fear of association with their land of origin. This last year, I drove by one of those internment camps and I was reminded of a story, which I heard first hand which brought tears to my eyes, as well as the person telling the story, some 45 or 50 years later.

While at Westport I also worked with our middle school youth. I had a concern that many Mennonite Brethren people had forgotten their history, a sad commentary especially since many of those experiencing and living through that history of coming to America were still alive. There was one such lady who was a part of the church that I wanted to share her story. I will never forget that experience.

This lady was in her 80’s and she was one of those who came to America with her parents to experience freedom. I will never forget her telling this story and her memories of being a young girl during World War 2. While it was close to 50 years later she would still cry telling of how she was treated during this time. She was bullied at school, had her hair pulled, called a Nazi and on and on. She would be beaten up, over and over again, simply because she was from Germany. She was guilty by association because she spoke German and was from Germany. She now understood more than most the freedoms afforded those who came to America, she understood what it felt like to have that dream and understanding ripped out from under her. As she told her story, I and others, wept, the hurt had lasted so long and what had been done to her was so wrong. The concerns many had about her and her family, at least to me, seemed similar to the way many are now treating many Muslim people.

I wonder sometimes about if we really think about the faith many who say they are Christian, represent. How do others see or respond to our faith by our words and actions?  I also think about how we proclaim the beautiful aspects of America while in reality, some promote a concept that is nothing like America. Now don’t take me wrong, I understand an appropriate vetting process, I understand the need to seek and insure safety as much as possible but as I look at comments on social media I am perplexed; How can we promote the respect for our soldiers who serve on the battlefield, yet at the same time, ridicule and belittle a United States Marine or others who served in our armed services who happen to be Muslim? 

Unfortunately, I believe many are allowing Radical Islam to win. We cower in fear and the way many show that fear is the way they group a whole group of people into the same category as the radicals. When the first response is to group all people into a radical group, we in many ways become no better than the people we throw under the umbrellas we do. We end up having a form of hatred in how we react. While we may try to mask it as caution, concern, etc.…, there is no doubt, there is for many a hatred that is certainly unchristian, and I challenge, for a nation of immigrants who says it supports the concepts of “The American Dream,” unfortunately rips the head off of the Statue of Liberty and all she stands for.

I challenge for Christians, put on the armor of God and display the attitude of love for all people that Christ commands us to put on. Sometimes that battle is won with love, and believe me, it can be a real battle to love even our enemies. Our responsibility is to mirror Jesus, not some political slant. I would say to those Americans who are so quick to hate, to reflect on our history as a nation and the mistakes we have made as a nation. Let’s learn from those mistakes and do all we can to not repeat them.  Now again, as a point of clarification, I am not supporting Radical Islam, I believe that it is a nations responsibility to do all it can to destroy all such forms of terror, there is in fact, no reasoning with some people and it is time we quit trying to do so. There really is very little reasoning with people who want to kill and destroy you, it is best of course if we try to prevent from getting to that point but that for a current group of people is too late, maybe not for others, but for some, yes, it is too late. Now understand we have to be careful to not throw all Muslims under the same umbrella. It is a sad day in America, I still believe we live in a great nation, unfortunately, the actions of hatred by some tear down brick by brick much of what has made our nation great.  May we rebuild her as opposed to tear her down. God help us all.  


 The Virtual Pew and our other work is supported solely by the kind contributions of others. You can click on the donate button below to give any amount to this work that does so much more than just post articles on the net; I draw no ongoing salary from the church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita which is predominantly a homeless church; I am grateful for any small amount you can contribute to help with this ministry.  Believe me there is much more going on than most realize. I will also provide information to verify the ministry and income that comes into this ministry and work.  Thanks and feel free to share any material from The Virtual Pew, I only ask that appropriate credit is given and a link to the original site with the materials provided.


Click here to read about, and order the book, The Keystone Kid 

You can also order the book at all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and so forth. It is available via e-book for .99 Cents or if having a way to download, can download the full audio book at soundcloud.com and simply going to Mike Furches / The Keystone Kid. The audio version of the book is available for a free download.

http://www.mosaicwichita.com/#!store
Click here to visit the web page The Virtual Pew

Click here to follow The Virtual Pew on Twitter

Mike Furches on Faceboook.

Click here to visit Mosaic Church where Mike is Pastor

The Keystone Kid/Virtual Pew Message Boards

Click to subscribe to my blog

There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free audio book link of The Keystone Kid at mike@furches.org You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/.

Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew.

Now I get asked this quite often, Can we repost your blogs or articles? The short answer to that is, what an honor that you would ask, and by all means, spread the word. Here is our contact information

The Virtual Pew
1249 N. St. Francis
Wichita Kansas, 67214
Email: mike@furches.org

Click on the following links to learn more about The Virtual Pew

Donations to The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News