The Virtual Pew News # 7 Christmas Giving
Wednesday November 29, 2006
I ask you to read through this entire newsletter. This particular newsletter will follow a little different format than usual and we will be back to the regular newsletter in the next week, of course the giving information will be included in those newsletters. I also ask you to prayerfully consider the value of The Virtual Pew this month as you read about the ministry support we are seeking. I ask you to then; if you have questions email or call me. The Cell Number of The Virtual Pew is (316) 258-3952. After answering those questions, I want you to then ask yourself; in what ways can I support and help this ministry?
I am also including for those receiving this information via email two attachments. One of a brochure describing The Virtual Pew that can be used to give to individuals you know who are either not in church, or are looking for spiritual answers. Many who have been hurt by the church and/or Christians have received unique value in The Virtual Pew and we have been able to refer many to local churches after some work. The other brochure is one you can give to individuals in your church, or even your church that describes the ministries at The Virtual Pew they can support via, volunteerism, prayer, and financially. This also includes some basic information on how to book me into your congregation and the variety of topics I can present on that is relevant to the ministry of The Virtual Pew. If you are reading this posting via The Virtual Pew or MySpace feel free to email me at email@example.com or any other location where you don't have the attachments and I will email you copies of the brochures.
As we approach the Christmas Season I find myself troubled more than usual. I am reminded of my own childhood and the Christmases I observed. Truth is Christmas while growing up was not a memorable or enjoyable event. Gifts and happy memories were few and far between. Oh, there were on rare occasion's happy memories and enjoyable gifts, but not often. I think it is for that reason that as I have become an adult Christmas has been so enjoyable due to the love of giving I have. I knew my family would enjoy Christmas and it has always been more about giving than receiving. I can honestly say my wife, children, and others I have come to know over the years have enjoyed this wonderful season in ways that have given me pleasure as a result of my ability to give.
As an adult I have had a few rough seasons but God has always come through. This season has been tough. The closest thing I can recall is my first year after leaving Crossroads Clubhouse in Tulsa and going into the ministry full-time. I had put money back to live on for about a year and a half, that is before 9/11/01 hit and I lost over one half of my investments in the crash that came to the stock and bond market. I didn't know how I was going to celebrate Christmas that year. I was driving a school bus and working full-time as a volunteer at Westport Mennonite Brethren Church. I was barely able to pay the bills.
That Christmas the church decided to give a gift of love to the pastors. Since I was a volunteer pastor I didn't expect to receive anything, in fact the church had not planned on any gift until some within the congregation reminded them of their desire to give to my family. It was during the presentation of gifts to the pastors that the church honored me, even mentioning they had forgotten about giving me a gift that season. They took up an offering, and there were several individuals who came up after the service to give gifts. The monetary gifts those people gave where what enabled me to give my family Christmas that year. I'll never forget how God and his people came through. This year the season and reminders are much the same. As this newsletter goes out, presently, there is no way I will be able to share gifts of love with either my family.
This year and this season has brought back memories. Truth is the last months have been tough. I have gone through a series of health issues that seems to be on the mend and finally being addressed. I just completed surgery that has hopefully resolved some of the issues. I know I can expect one more surgery and a recovery that will take some time. That on top of a recent move into a much smaller house and the lack of giving at The Virtual Pew has caused me to be a little depressed lately and at times questioning the call God has on my life. There has been sacrifice many don't realize.
I have no doubt God has been using the ministry of The Virtual Pew, I see it in the correspondence, I hear it in the conversations either face to face or via telephone. I have no doubt God is using the ministry of The Virtual Pew. The truth of it is though, without the support of others who can give, or the speaking engagements this ministry is going to have a very difficult time continuing in the way it is. As a result, this Christmas, without a gift from God, and the gifts of others it will be difficult. Presently, The Virtual Pew has less than $600 in its account after outstanding bills are paid. I am dedicated to the ministry of The Virtual Pew; I know its value, I know of the changed lives and appropriate leadership and direction it is giving to various people across the planet. From Australia, to the sands of Baghdad, and from the streets of Wichita Kansas, to the shores of Hawaii, I have had the joy of experiencing and knowing this ministries effectiveness.
This Christmas I am asking, you to consider how you can give and support the ministry of The Virtual Pew. I know many have been praying for us, I appreciate that more than you will ever know. But I also ask you to consider the words of James in considering that; "Faith without works is dead." In other words, there comes a point in time you consider ways to support this ministry in both time and finances.
The hope is that this year The Virtual Pew is ready to move to the next level, including the possibility of bringing on additional staff, with the appropriate gifts. If the money comes in, I would love to bring on a one-half- time and a full-time position to The Virtual Pew. Remember my salary is set at $300 a week. I and those involved in The Virtual Pew would love to raise that salary but as of the last few months that salary has only been $200 a week in order to spread the finances into areas that need attention and to keep those areas of ministry going. I ask you to consider this small salary, understand I have requested and kept the salary at a minimum two thirds of what the regular salary is in order to keep things going.
I also ask churches, businesses and others to consider bringing me in to speak, even if just for a few moments to describe the work of The Virtual Pew. You simply have to visit the web site to see the topics available. Many have said wonderful things regarding this work and the effectiveness of what God has done. I will tell you, as I watch the media and press; the message of hope is as relevant as ever.
It is discouraging, even depressing at times, but I continue to be reminded of the need for people to hear a real, and honest message relating to Jesus Christ. I find pleasure in spending time with people and finding ways to encourage them. It is one of the things that makes this ministry unique, I see people I am working with as people of value, I see the need to give them real time. I don't want handouts, I want to earn the way for The Virtual Pew, but I need doors to get into, I need someone who will follow through with the ability to book me. We need more than prayer, we need prayer backed up with action.
As you approach the Christmas and Holiday Season I ask you to look at ways you can financially support this ministry. Truth is, we have had Christians, non Christians, even Atheists and Agnostics give because of the value they see in it and the knowledge they have regarding the work I do. I promise the desire, effort, and effectiveness won't cease.
This year, for the first Christmas of The Virtual Pew we are asking people to consider the gifts they can give. For each gift, either in honor of, on behalf of, or for another, even yourself, we will send a personalized card of your choice designating the gift given. If you want the gift to be anonymous we will insure it is. We will also send appropriate cards for the person giving the gift to the person receiving the gift. Because Jewish contributors have given we will also send Hanukah Cards, or for others, Holiday Cards. You simply designate the holiday you want to observe. Of course, we celebrate, unapologetically, Christmas, that isn't to say we don't appreciate and observe others and their day of choice.
The personalized cards we send out will have a paragraph that designates what the gift is for, and who it is from, it will also include a paragraph describing The Virtual Pew. This is a unique way to give a gift that makes a difference. I'll never forget my daughter doing something like this last year when she brought us two goats that assisted a poor family in a third world country. We will likely never see the family those goats went to, but I have thought often throughout the year of how those goats must have helped the family. Your gift will make a difference in the life of someone.
The following are areas of giving you can contribute to this Holiday Season for The Virtual Pew. Thanks for your prayers, support, and belief in this ministry. If not using any of the following options, you can always visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and go to the store link with Amazon on the front page. Order any of the items listed from those links or click on the search engine for Amazon and do your shopping.
Counseling: I provide daily counseling on various subjects. As you can imagine this takes time and involves a variety of individuals in various needs. In the past the counseling I have provided involves everything from dealing with pornography, the hurt that has come about from Christians, struggling with past sexual sin, drug abuse, sexual abuse, parental relationships, mental illness, and much more.
$25 provides an hour of counseling service
$30 provides 300 minutes of telephone service. Currently The Virtual Pew uses 600 -900 minutes of phone service a month which involves counseling via telephone.
Specialized Counseling: This is an area that involves more than just talking or corresponding with someone via the telephone, and/or, email. Over the last year this has included Drug Counseling, Sexual Abuse Counseling, Mental Illness, Job Training Counseling, marriage counseling, and various others.
$25 purchases a drug test kit for someone involved in drug counseling and rehab.
$25 provides an hour counseling services for anyone in any area.
$50 provides materials for a prospective family in marriage counseling.
$30 provides an hour of job search assistance for someone unemployed.
$1,000 assists in the cost of counseling, job search, job placement, and job training for an unemployed person. I have unique experience and will work with the homeless, mentally ill, or unemployed person to identify appropriate persons who will have a chance at success, but also assist in finding job placement, and up to one week with the person on the job, training them at no cost to the employer. On these jobs, we search for entry level positions, not fast food or high turnover jobs. Think of the tremendous savings to tax payers, and the help it provides someone unemployed. We aren't only providing a valuable service here, but a tremendous savings to tax payers.
$1,500 provides an extensive drug treatment program, and detoxification effort to someone coming out of drug addictions. This may require a 30 day assistance program and even involve the person living with us for the duration of time in order to assist them. We cannot guarantee success, we can guarantee effective methods and help that has proven to be effective.
$40 gets you an article blogged on The Virtual Pew, and MySpace on any topic you choose. These articles are read by the hundreds of thousands on a weekly basis. Have an area you would like to know my opinion, or see addressed, I'll spend 2 hours doing the research, and then writing it and posting it complete with hyperlinks and photos.
$40 gets you a movie review and a look at the spiritual themes on virtually any movie you want. Of course for obscure movies or movies not readily available, you may have to provide the movie. If a current movie in theaters, or available on DVD the $40 will include the costs.
$50 takes a homeless person to dinner, not at McDonalds but a nice 3+ star restaurant, something they may not be used to. A note here, blessings such as this are often needed. If a person don't begin to feel they deserve this type of recognition, they may never feel they are ready to help themselves.
$25 takes a needy child to the movies complete with refreshments.
$100 takes a family of up to 5 to a movie, complete with refreshments and/or a meal at a local restaurant.
$25 provides basic clothing for a homeless person.
$20 purchases a Bible delivered to a person in need.
$100 provides a Christmas celebration to a homeless or needy person. There are only 4 of these available, and each of those persons will spend Christmas with our family on Christmas Eve, and Christmas day. This includes all of the costs for this, including gifts for each person. We know this type of activity opens up relationships with the individuals not just for Christmas but a lifetime.
Wrestling Ministry: For those that don't know the wrestling community is a large part of the ministry of The Virtual Pew. From providing spiritual counseling and support to wrestling families, to providing assistance for low income families and wrestlers, we have been providing assistance for some time. In fact this ministry came to be known by many by the work I did with young cancer victim Tyler Graebner of Hutchinson Kansas. National sports celebrities all across the world became involved in our efforts with Tyler, the work and Tyler's story was even featured on ESPN. We have also presented Church on the Mat Services at various locations including National and State Tournaments to as many as 15,000 people. The article Wrestling with God has been used and translated to various languages and has been published all around the world. The ministry doesn't stop with these things though, there are various other ways you can support the ministry to the wrestling community.
$50 assists a youth wrestler with various club fees.
$20 covers the cost of a wrestling tournament for a low income wrestler.
$25 pays for membership to wrestling groups such as USA Wrestling.
$40 pays the fees for a Kansas Wrestler to be a part of The Kansas Wizzers, a state High School and Jr. High Team that has received national recognition.
$60 provides a wrestling uniform, shoes and a headgear for a low income wrestler.
$150 provides a week long, intensity camp opportunity for a wrestler.
$20,000 provides salary for 1 year, and partial benefits for me. (only one of these available, individuals can contribute to part of this goal)
$20,000 provides a full-time co-worker for The Virtual Pew with benefits. (only one of these available, individuals can contribute to part of this goal)
$12,500 provides a part-time co-worker for The Virtual Pew. (only one of these available, individuals can contribute to part of this goal)
$30 provides 300 minutes of telephone service. Currently The Virtual Pew uses 600 -900 minutes of phone service a month
$400 pays for 1 year maintenance and updates for The Virtual Pew and Mike Furches web sites.
$25 allows for one movie review. Many became aware of The Virtual Pew through the association with Hollywood Jesus. Being able teach others how to use culture to share your faith, is exhibited no place better than with movie reviews.
$15 purchases any one of the 3 movie review books I have contributed to with Hollywood Jesus. These are now selling on eBay and other locations, but we receive no benefits from those sales.
$15 purchases the CD Comin' Around Again by Mary Jane Furches. The video of Amazing Grace has received praise and acclaim from individuals and groups around the world.
$300 provides the opportunity for me to share with a church on one of a variety of topics at no charge to that church. This is especially important for smaller churches that don't have a budget to bring in outside speakers.
$25 pays for 1 month of internet service. (only 12 of these available)
$750 allows for one-week of intensive ministry in the streets and among the unchurched in any local community within the Continental United States. This includes transportation to and from the location, lodging while there, meals and extensive ministry in locations such as the streets of Hollywood California or New Orleans Louisiana. The contributor in this area can designate the location where they would like to see this ministry that involves one on one contact with those in the streets, including opportunities, either public and/or private where I will share. Note on this, I and others will work to promote an evangelical presentation while in this area.
$1,250 allows for one-week of extensive ministry to any location in North America including Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii or any of the Caribbean Islands surrounding North America. The contributor in this area can designate the location where they would like to see extensive ministry, involving one on one contact with those in the streets, including opportunities, either public and/or private where I can share. Note on this, I and others will work to promote an evangelical presentation while in this area.
As you can see, there are many needs of The Virtual Pew, and many ways you can support and be a part of this ministry, not just in prayer, but in the area of volunteering, and, via your contributions. I have heard you can tell where a person's heart is by their calendar or appointment book and their checkbook. I believe that to be true. Where are you willing to invest your time, and your money? I know many ministries, and organizations are hitting you up this season for contributions. Many of those are ministries and/or organizations that I as well support. But this year, I ask you to consider where your dollar will have the largest impact. If praying about that, I am confident many will see and know of the impact this ministry has had, with the limited resources. I ask you to consider giving to and helping this ministry out this year so we can do even more. I know we need it, and I know we have made a difference in the lives of so many. Don't take my word for it; look at some of their comments over the course of the last 6 months. Then think about the fact, that God used this ministry to begin to not only open doors, but to have an impact on changing the lives of those often called, The Lost, The Last, and The Least. May we all continue to have a passion for the very types of people Jesus loved and spent time with.
VERY TIGHT MAN! Way to go...
Everyone should see this.
wow ..heartbreaking...we have so much here....God bless
"Wow man, war. Like wow, man." - Winona Ryder (poorly impersonated voice) in the South Park movie.
This one really hit me. I cried. Those lines are still so powerful today. "War is over, if you want it." I guess the question is, do we want it?
I loved this blog and video, how anyone can be critical of the call to action that Christ has in our lives is beyond me. While the video is difficult to watch, it is certainly a reminder of the heartache Jesus must have over the horrors of war. Thank you for being an inspiration.
I'm beginning to learn my way around myspace and happen to check out your video. Sad. True. Hope many more begin to open their eyes to it instead of living in the dark.
From an active duty military man's perspective the only unneeded bit requiring editing from that video was Yoko's voice. Man, that video placed a lot of OUR reality in check. Mike, thanks for sharing that!
Keep saying what He tells you to say. The smallest thing we do can make a great difference in someone's life.
I can't believe this, is it any wonder some people don't take Christianity seriously. Mike, you are one that would almost persuade me. Keep up the good work and spreading truth, even if it does piss off some Christians.
Thanks for this Mike... affirms what I am talking about tonight with some young adults
Nice to read a Non-Calvinistic study of Ephesians. Nice to know wherever I go, there's always the Virtual Pew
Nice Dr. Mike i can tell you had some serious praying and studying behind these writings ....keep it up.......your the man through Christ...have a nice fall festival...lol...much love Ryan
Very good, Mike! Sometimes Christians forget that we gotta love them beofre we lead them!! By the way-- I love you in Him. In Him, DJ mom
Mike, This is a timely message for me at this point in my life. There will be great reflection on what the Holy Spirit has shown me here this evening. I pray for More Love, For More People! I struggle to love, to care for others, to give attention to someone else rather than to my selfish ideas and motives....How caring, How loving was the Man that knows my heart, knows my thoughts, my motives, and loves this sinner anyway! I pray for more love, for more people!
Awesome...refreshing...keep up the good work
thanks again Mike..... you hit the nail on the head..... one guy that I am impressed with is Rick Warren. I know that he gets some slack, but he is a reverse tither - living on 10% and giving 90% to the church. Through his book sales he gave all that he ever made back to the church so that he did not make a salary. He drives and older pickup. He owns two suits (of which he has had forever - I have seen both of them) and he has started some great ministries working with people overseas and to the people struck with aids.
I believe that it is time for us as leaders to get back to the fundamentals of our faith. Love God, love others, take care of the poor, the needy, the widows, the children, and take care of each other.
Thanks for the soapbox (lol) I'll get off now.
Nice article, getting ready to post it on the Christian gaming website whouwannabe.com....
A difficult but necessary blog. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable and writing your heart.
Thank you for addressing this touchy issue in a Biblical, loving way. We all need reminded as to the need to follow Christ as opposed to men or women. While there are those I appreciate in the ministry none of us are perfect, it is time we show the world that we know that. Thankfully your comments will do more to show the world that we recognize our own faults as opposed to ignoring them. God bless and again, thanks.
As a non Christian, I appreciate your take on this. I get so tired of people not addressing the issues within their faith systems. I must say, if more Christians addressed issues with this open and honest manner, I would be more inclined to consider their faith. I do think you could have been much harder on those you mention, but I understand that was not your intent.
Bro', what can I say, you are a man after my own heart (and spirit). You are right about judging, we are not told "do not judge", we are told how to judge. Our place is not to pass sentence. On being financially well off, I don't think God begrudges us being wealthy as long as we are good stewards with what we have. All Christians being wealthy? Yeah, right, like we can all handle money! My rule of thumb is I don't want more than I would be willing to give away to someone who needs it more than I do. I think a pastor, televangelist, etc., should have an income equal to the AVERAGE of his congregation. What do you think about that? If his flock's avg. income is 60K a year, that would be an appropriate income. If his flock avg's 1 Mil./year, that would be appropriate for him. If they avg. $30K/year, $100k is inappropriate!!! Just my opinion mind you. Brother, God bless you for what you do. I will pray for you will be financially blessed to meet your needs and a little more.
Mike great admonition.....God is working in your ministry. You help me personally a lot with your writings...what I got out was... keep focused on Christ (on things above ) and things around you will work out for the glory of God ...and his true mission will be accomplished through you...try not to be discouraged by the sin of "leaders" make Christ your leader and you are promised not to be let down and i agree with furious Rick Warren seems to be a man following Christ .....Much love
Wow, Mike, you took this in a direction different than what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised, though.
For me, I also see the evident hypocrisy in Haggard's strong push against gay rights while living a double life of drug addiction and hidden sexuality. Growing up in conservative Christianity, I saw over and over again those who harped on "standards" the strongest eventually be unmasked as having a double life, often involving the very things they railed against. From a psychological standpoint, though, this isn't surprising.
I don't know that I would call myself an evangelical anymore. The intolerance, fundamentalism, and misplacement of priorities among that movement have turned me off to it. I may still qualify as a "liberal evangelical" (i.e. Tony Campolo or Jim Wallis) but I am no longer comfortable with self-applying that term. "Christian" works fine for me, although I am also considering "Quaker" or "Friend."
Bravo!!!!!!! Well said my brother.
Very well said and more importantly it was clearly done in a spirit of love.
Wonderful blog. I think it is necessary to bring to light what is wrong within our Christian faith. I do know that God does wish for us to prosper. But to many times people associate prosperity with financial wealth. One thing I truly believe is that as Christians we are called to some form of ministry or another. Again unfortunately most people when the they hear the word "ministry" they are thinking the pulpit or going to Africa, etc. We believers are in some kind of ministry and God gives us gifts and the ability to minister to others through various areas. My wife for instance has her own ministry by maintaining a clothes closet in my home town. I truly see the word of God come through her and God's love shining his love and light through her kindness and love. God has taken her gift and love of folding and washing clothes and taught her how to use it for His glory.
And you my friend have an awesome ministry. Keep up the good work.
Yep, this blog pretty much got it right. The whole "ministry as a business" has always been something the sincere unbeliever can stumble over. (and the numerous sexual scandals over the years gives SO much ammunition to the anti-believer, who is a different category). Best point for ALL of us: while you SHOULD be able to look at a professing Christian and see Jesus, it doesn't always happen. Look at JC, and forgive his children, and call sin, SIN. Rave on, Mike; good job.
Great blog, thanks for spending the time to comment on the current happenings as i know you have bee down with your back. I wonder when we as a people will corporately cut the bull so to speak and begin to look for the authentic, perhaps the organic and seek the Core. I love your style and thoughts thanks brother and God Bless prayers and blessing to you and yours.
I appreciate your blog. This is the kind of stuff that a lot of us are thinking right now. Thank you!
Amen Mike for writing this. Truth.
A very well-put post. This is all very good information and very necessary issues for all Christians to consider. Thanks!
Great Blog Mike, one thing though that you do not mention is the need to be praying for those in leadership. Too often in the western church, when leaders fall it turns into a feeding frenzy. I am not saying that is what you are engaged in, but I do see it happening and it grieves me. Throughout the last week I find myself lead to pray for Ted Haggard and his family. There is necessary pain and there is unnecessary pain, and much of the public shame that the Haggards are going through is necessary for restoration. But much of the vitriol coming from the church is more heinous than the sins Haggard has committed. Scripture commends us to gently restore the brother who has fallen. Therein is the true measure of Christ! And that is the true glory of the Church.
This has moved me in ways like never before ~ I too hope to rid myself fully of the shackles that the chaingang has placed upon me and my life ~ When my life has come to its end, I will be handed the key of freedom ~ and then, like Johnny, I too will go home ~
God Bless you brother Mike for sharing this ~
Contact and Giving Information
Oh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html
To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.