Monday, September 29, 2008

I Don't Get Paid As Much!

Luke 3: 14
Some soldiers asked him, "And what about us? What do we have to do?"

John told them, "Don't force people to pay money to make you leave them alone. Be satisfied with your pay."


Over the years I had the privilege of being an Executive Director of an agency, plus be in other roles where I had to hire and fire people. While there are some good things about that, there are also potential problems.

I learned over the years that different situations go into play when hiring someone for a position. While the goal and desire is to provide equal pay for equal work, the truth is, that is not always possible. Sometimes, budget restraints, education levels, and other things come into play. One of the worst things that can happen is when one employee, doing essentially the same job, finds out that they are being paid a different rate of pay than a coworker they may or may not be more qualified than.

One of the things I have become aware of in my own life, as well as in supervising staff is that during the hiring process, you seldom ever hear anyone complain about their pay, it is only after they have been hired and after they know what a coworker gets paid.

Now don’t get me wrong here, all people should work for justice but we have to be careful to be content with what we have. It is much bigger than that though, it comes down to trying to figure out why one may want more, or may not be content with the conditions of which they were hired.

Each of us needs to be so in tune with God that we can figure out why we are doing what we do. A part of this is realizing that God has a purpose for us. We also need to realize though, be satisfied with the things God has given us, including the pay we receive on a job. If we need another job, that pays more money, or we need a current job to pay more, God will be there to assist, but even here, use wisdom. I have seen people make a quick decision that comes back to bite them on things like this.

Bottom line, we all need to understand, that while we may work for someone else, God is still our provider, he is the one who can help us meet our needs. We have to be wise in the way we spend our money, the things we do with our pay, but we shouldn’t forget, it still comes from God. Instead of complaining about not getting paid enough on a job, we may need to thank God that he has given us a job. In a world where so many people are out of work, a pay check is something we can have that many people don’t.

Thought for the day: If doing what God wants you to do, you will find more satisfaction in what you do, than you will in what you get paid.

The following video shows an old aspect that the Lord will provide. See if you find yourself needing any of these things. Just click on the video. If the video don't appear, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgU8re8b8aA


Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Street Level Devotions, God Honors Those Who Wait

Luke 3: 25-35
At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God's Spirit came to him and told him that he would not die until he had seen Christ the Lord.

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses says should be done for a new baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple. Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,

"Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me.

With my own eyes I have seen what you have done to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this.

Your mighty power is a light for all nations, and it will bring honor to your people Israel."

Jesus' parents were surprised at what Simeon had said. Then he blessed them and told Mary, "This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him, and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking."

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Simeon. Here is this old man who had wanted to see God’s son, the Savior of the world, called the Messiah to come to earth for many years. I can’t help but think of how easy it would be for him to think he would never see God’s son. While he had faith in God and the promise God made to him, he had to wait for a long time to see that promise come into being.

We don’t rally have any proof that Simeon was anything other than a regular guy, who worshiped God and wanted to see the savior of the world whom had been taught about in many of the ancient religious books and religious meetings of the time. He was always there though, always at the steps of the teaching places that were much like early churches.

Can you imagine waiting all of those years for something special? I know many can because some have waited for a husband, a wife, a child, a good job, better pay, or the list can go on and on. Yet, here was Simeon waiting for a person he knew was going to provide salvation for the world. Did he expect a king? Was he waiting for a grown man? How would he know who the messiah was if he ever did see him?

Simeon had a faith and a relationship with God that is worth observing. He simply knew that God would make things clear to him if he ever did get to see Jesus. He had a great relationship with God, had prayed, and heard from God that he would eventually see Jesus. This tells us something about this mans relationship with God. We will never know about the things God has promised us if we don’t read the Bible and talk to him. Of course, a part of talking to God is learning to listen to God.

Simeon believed that God would do what he said. So many times we read what is in the Bible, see what God has promised but then go on and act like he doesn’t mean what he said. While we may sometimes take things wrong, it should encourage us to read study and try to understand what God promises. If what we are thinking doesn’t work the way we think it should, it is likely we are thinking the wrong thing; we have to be willing to change our opinions at times. God will keep his word for us, just like he did Simeon.

God honored his promise to Simeon; he will honor his promises to us. In those promises, we have to accept the good with the bad. We should be willing to express our gratitude not just for the big things we see God do, but also the little things. Of course God gave Simeon a big thing, and he was patient for many years. Hopefully we will be patient to experience the good things God has for us.

Thought for the day: God will give us his promises when it is best for us to receive them. Thankfully He is in control and knows not only what I need, but when I need it.

The following video talks about God's Time. It is a video featuring the Robbie Seay Band and the song is Eternal God. Just click on the video, if the video don't appear, click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqRg-rZnwVA


Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Friday, September 26, 2008

Street Level Devotions, God Makes A Way For The Poor

Luke 2: 22-24
The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, just as the Law of the Lord says, "Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord." The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.


A while back I was visiting a church and was appalled at how they took up their offering. The pastor, stood up front in a nice suit asking the congregation to lift up their envelopes filled with their tithes and offerings. A tithe or offering are monetary gifts that people give. God uses these so we can show our faithfulness. One can often tell how much one loves God by the money they give or by how much time one spends doing work that shows God honor. Many people put their offerings and tithes for the church into an envelope so they can get credit for the gift.

The pastor had people hold up their envelopes, and told them to recite a saying that was on the overhead screen. “God give me a bigger house.” “Give me more money.” “Increase my 401-K Lord.” “God, let our pastor have the nicest Armani suits.” “Jesus give me that car I have been asking for!”

The congregation repeated these things after their pastor then took their offerings up and placed them in a box at the feet of the pastor. I was ready to leave but stuck around for the rest of the service. I have this saying; it goes like this, “If that message doesn’t preach in Bangladesh, it don’t preach here.” In other words, if the prosperity preached by so many doesn’t work in the poorest of poor countries, it isn’t Biblical. I would challenge, this church had issues with understanding the Bible as they clearly presented a message contrary to the Bible.

In looking at the story of Mary and Joseph we can see; they were poor, if anyone would have been blessed by God to become rich, it was these two. Joseph was a struggling carpenter, and Mary was a pregnant teenager. We know they didn’t have money because the customs of their time required them to make a sacrifice, a tithe or offering if you will.

One of the things about God some don’t understand is He made provisions for the wealthy and the poor. We see this in part from the Bible verses above. We know Mary and Joseph were poor because of the type of offering they gave God in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Today many get upset and think they have to give a lot to God, yet the Bible has numerous stories of how God doesn’t expect the same types of gifts from the poor as he does the wealthy. He has a way the poor can show their love and it shows it is more about intent than amount.

We often make excuses as to why we can’t give to God. We need to realize, that while we may not have much to give, God still expects us to give of our time, and money no matter how little we have. This is something the poor seems to appreciate; at least I have over the years. When one goes out of their way to show me love, I am grateful and want to show appreciation. I challenge, none has given us as much, or loved us as much as God. While I may not be able to give much, I can give and frankly God deserves to know I love him. Remember we show this mainly with our pocketbooks and calendar. This is a universal truth no matter how much money you have.

This week, let’s not make an excuse as to why we can’t give to God’s work, whether it is money or time. As much as he has done for us, shouldn’t we show him our appreciation?

Thought for the day: God while I may not have much, thank you for what I do have. Help me be grateful for all of the little things you have provided.

The following is a video that shows a challenging way one can give. When we give finances to ministry, many can do things like this, but remember, God wants more than our money, he wants our time, therefore we can give like this more than in just the way of finance, but of time and effort. The video is challenging, but I challenge you to watch. Just click on the video, and if it don't appear, just click on the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgqQWHge3Vs



Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Street Level Devotions, Take That Rich Man!

Luke 1: 46-55
Mary's Song of Praise
Mary said:
With all my heart I praise the Lord, and I am glad because of God my Savior.

He cares for me, his humble servant. From now on, all people will say God has blessed me.

God All-Powerful has done great things for me, and his name is holy.

He always shows mercy to everyone who worships him.

The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud.

He drags strong rulers from their thrones and puts humble people in places of power.

God gives the hungry good things to eat, and sends the rich away with nothing.

He helps his servant Israel and is always merciful to his people.

The Lord made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his family forever!

Most people who study the Bible, called Theologians, believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus was somewhere between the age of 14 and 17 when she became pregnant. We often forget, Jesus was born to a teenager who became pregnant by God before she was married. Imagine growing up in a small community and what it was like for Mary, especially when that community would sometimes kill a young lady who had become pregnant without being married.

Despite all of this Mary still found a way to praise God and be grateful for what God was going to do with Jesus. She was so pleased that she voiced the above Bible verses.

Sometimes we think we have it tough, in fact, we know we have it tough, that doesn’t change the reality that we can find blessings in the tough times. Mary didn’t focus on the tough times, the tough decisions she faced, she had faith that God would do good things and she focused on what her son, Jesus would do, and what he would become.

It is obvious that Mary didn’t forget her difficulty, she didn’t forget what it was like to live in poverty; instead, she realized that God had a special place for the poor, and He was going to help the poor. Mary gives assurance that God is with the poor as long as they respect and worship him and celebrate the things he has done for them.

The poor are often humble, less likely to brag because they know what it is like to not have much. I think it is one of the reasons God respects and loves the poor so much. They realize that what they have comes from God, and that if they are faithful to try and do what God wants then God will have a much better life for them both on earth and in heaven. We can begin to experience those things now. While we may not have money, while we may not have things, we can still have a relationship with God. We can have a relationship with one who doesn’t discriminate against us because of our lack, or the difficult times we may be going through. Mary realized that and it is one of the reasons many still appreciate her. Imagine being the mother of Jesus, no easy task but even in tough times, she was grateful, and willing to speak the truth about God.

Today may we all be reminded that God loves all people, including the poor. Jesus grew up without wealth and always had an appreciation for the poor and what they go through. While life is tough at times, and there are no promises that we will win the lottery, we can be sure that if we love God, know Jesus, and do our best to follow his teachings, the ultimate prize awaits us. For those of us who have had to go without, we will one day have more than we could have ever imagined and it will all be worth it.

Thought for the day: While I may not have money today to pay all of my bills, the day will come where I will walk on streets of Gold and never want for anything again because I have loved and served God, and God has shown me his love by preparing a special place for me in heaven. I have another home; I can’t wait to get there.


To get a visual illustration of what it was like for Mary, double click on the video below. If the video don't appear just click on the following link. Let this be a reminder of the love Jesus had for the poor.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_b-woAaK1s



Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

To Subscribe to HJ Live Live Feed –http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/hollywoodjesus

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Street Level Devotions, God Not Just for Religious People

Has anyone ever noticed that devotional books seem to be written primarily for people who have been in Christian circles for most of their life? Have you ever wanted a devotional book that was written with a common sense, street level approach? You know? A way that could help the person who hadn’t been a Christian their whole lives, a person who was more accustomed to the language of the streets than they are the language of the Church?

Recently while looking for some devotions to do with teenage boys I realized how frustrated I was getting in trying to find something they could understand. Of the group, some where Christians with a limited knowledge of the Bible, others were not Christian and some of the things in the series was going over their head. After about three weeks of this I decided, why not give it a shot to write a devotional book on my own. After awhile I came up with the title Street Level Devotions because it was from the place I wanted to write it, from a street level of understanding. In the process I was reminded of one of my grandfathers favorite Bible teachers, and one of the all time greats, J. Vernon McGee.

J. Vernon McGee was an old time preacher who used to do regular teachings on the radio. He was what I would call a common man’s theologian. He wrote in a simplicity that most could understand and in a way that illustrated Biblical truth. While I am far from a J. Vernon McGee, I have to tell you, it is his method and approach that has inspired me in the writing of Street Level Devotions.

Presently I am 2 weeks ahead and have decided to try and post a daily devotional. I may get a little behind on occasion but am making this my goal, just as a daily posting of Scripture was my goal last year. If visiting http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ message board forums you will see a daily posting that if read will enable you to read through the Bible in a year. While it took me 367 days to get this done, I got it done in a little over a year. My hope is to use the same type of motivation to post these devotions at The Virtual Pew, The Virtual Pew Message boards, Hollywood Jesus and MySpace. I will respond to the comments that take place and hopefully these will be of benefit to people.

I am starting the posting of these today and the first posting will include my back ground information. It is my hope that this will eventually be published, so if any one is interested, knows of any publishers and can help pass along the request, that would be much appreciated.

Now for the regulars of The Virtual Pew who have become accustomed to this ministry challenging people either in social action, political action, or just plain walking with Jesus helps, those things will continue. I appreciate the readership, the ministry support which allows these things to continue and the ministry to take place. Enjoy, and do remember, today’s devotion includes as a first devotion my background. Any suggestions regarding edits, helps in getting this published would me greatly appreciated. As for me, I do know the concept is something long overdue.

Now for the bio, and the first devotion; please realize, after today’s posting, each devotion will be fairly short and easy to incorporate into your daily life.

Mike Furches comes from a diverse and interesting background. While growing up he experienced abuse, homelessness, drugs, gangs, and much more. Leaving home prior to his 15th birthday he had to grow up on the streets and developed a unique perspective on life. Much of Mike’s perspectives were rooted in anything but a “Christian” perspective. In fact, he would share later in life of his despise for much of contemporary religion, especially rooted in “traditional” or “institutional” Christian perspectives.

Mike came to have a relationship with Jesus Christ in his later teen years; it would be years later before he understood what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Many of the issues he had with the “traditional” church continue but he has never denied his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Early on Mike promoted Christian concerts to reach out to a generation who felt neglected by the church. He also led devotional teachings on Saturday Evenings and Sunday Mornings at a local state park. Mike was involved in what many considered unique and cutting edge ministries.
Later while in college, Mike continued to promote concerts and provided chaplain service to Dickenson County Jails in Abilene Kansas. He also worked with the homeless, inmates, and other “problem” folks. Mike also ended up doing internships at Hutchinson State Reformatory where he worked in the Segregation Units, and an inner city community in Chicago Illinois, called Jesus People USA. While at JPUSA he lead a ministry to a low income housing unit, and coordinated ministry activities at JPUSA where he served as a “Deac for the Week.”

After graduation from college Mike continued working in areas not typically done by the church. He was among the first to promote Christian bands in various environments. He was credited with successfully promoting and managing the first Christian cross over band as well as successful work with non Christian bands. The concept was new and unique and the effort made strides at providing opportunity for Christians to reach a community neglected by many in Christian circles.

After being recognized as having one of the top agencies in North America by Poll-Star and Performance Magazines in 1988, as well as managing the top grossing band in theaters 2,500 and under, with The Judd’s and Blue Oyster Cult numbers 2 and 3 respectively, and 3 of the top ten shows in clubs 800 and under, Mike left the music business to start work as a mental health professional.

While in Greenville South Carolina, Mike started a journey that eventually made him one of the world’s foremost authorities on rehabilitation for the Severe and Persistently Mentally Ill. He trained various programs across the globe and served on the International Faculty for Clubhouse Development for The International Center for Clubhouse Development based out of New York City. Mike presented across America at some top conferences on Mental Health Rehabilitation. He also served as the director of a program in Hendersonville North Carolina that was among the initial pilot programs for Managed Health Care Systems, and later served as an Executive Director in Tulsa Oklahoma. At the peak of recognition in the field of Mental Health, Mike would leave to pursue his dream of full-time ministry.

In 2001 shortly after 9/11, Mike was considering various pastor positions including one in Nebraska, another at Willow Creek in Chicago, and another at a small inner city church in Wichita Kansas. With his knowledge and love of the inner city, having learned how to provide social services and social needs would be of benefit in the area of ministry. He served as pastor in Wichita for a little over 5 years before starting an independent ministry called The Virtual Pew.

With the help of individuals like David Bruce from Hollywood Jesus and George Barna from the Barna Foundation, Mike started an online ministry providing spiritual teachings to individuals who were not involved in church. The test market for The Virtual Pew would take place at the controversial MySpace web site. It didn’t take long to realize the full potential and possibility of The Virtual Pew.

Over the years, Mike has provided unique ministry to those called The Lost, The Last, and The Least. Many of these include persons who have given up on church, or felt neglected by “traditional” or “institutional” Christianity. Mike continues to operate The Virtual Pew. He has also become the pastor of Mosaic Church in Wichita, a church whose tag line is “A Church for people who have given up on church.” Mike has also worked with Youth Horizons, a nationally recognized program providing mentoring and residential care for fatherless youth in the hope of pointing them to the message and salvation offered by Christ.

Mike has a unique background that allows him to relate to people in a special and real way. He provides a non judgmental, accepting ministry to various groups without compromising the integrity of the Bible. That background has resulted in him sharing his story nationally in various forms, including television shows such as Nightline, Carman’s Times 2, and various local television programs. Mike has also appeared on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs and has been in various publications including Time Magazine, Christianity Today, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal and many others. He has also been featured on numerous web sites across the globe. He has spoken before tens of thousands across the United States and Canada and has maintained his his goal of relating to the “common person” and “regular folk.”

In his years of ministry Mike has come to the understanding that while many Christian devotions exist, there are few that communicate with a world seeking spiritual truth in an honest, non threatening way. Street Level Devotions is a devotional book with the intent of providing daily devotions for a year, without the Christian lingo. It is intended to be a tool to introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ, while at the same time, presented in a way that is easily understood. The intent is to be as honest and as real as the Bible is in the way it communicates to others. Real issues and real subjects will be addressed in a real way to real people who are either searching for truth, or wanting to grow in their faith without having to adapt and learn a new language Mike calls Christaneze.

Enjoy the journey, learn from the Word of God, and experience Jesus in a real, Street Level way.
For more information about Mike visit http://www.furches.org/, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/, or www.myspace.com/mikefurches You can also email him at mike@thevirtualpew.com

All Scripture notations are from the Contemporary English Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, © 1998 unless otherwise noted.

Street Level Devotions
By Mike Furches

1.) God, Not Just For Religious People

Luke 1: 1-4
Many people have tried to tell the story of what God has done among us. They wrote what we had been told by the ones who were there in the beginning and saw what happened. So I made a careful study of everything and then decided to write and tell you exactly what took place. Honorable Theophilus, I have done this to let you know the truth about what you have heard.


Back when the Bible was first written there was the perspective that only the religious people of the time could know God. It was a concept that was exclusive and left a lot of people out, in fact, in the early days a lot of people who weren’t religious, or followers of the Jewish teachings were called Gentiles. Many had a hard time accepting these Gentiles into their religious groups.

Sometimes I think that today’s world isn’t much different. It seems that unless one belongs to a certain religious group, a certain type of church, or even has a certain type of look then they aren’t accepted by various religious groups. This is rather sad, especially considering that people don’t like to be on the receiving end of prejudice. When a person makes a judgment based on someone’s background, whether they realize it or not, that prejudiced behavior does more to keep them away from religion or Jesus than making them want to come to him.

Luke was one of the followers of Jesus who was a physician. He also wrote the book of Acts in the Bible. While Luke was not an eyewitness to the things Jesus did, he did make the effort to speak to as many eyewitnesses as possible to learn about Jesus. While Luke likely came from a family with money, he wasn’t accepted by many of the religious people of his day because he wasn’t a part of their group. In fact, he was one of those people they called a Gentile.

Luke wanted others who were like him, people who had not come from a religious background, to know Jesus. He realized that the message of Jesus wasn’t just for the religious, it was for all people.

Luke addressed the story of Jesus to a friend who was apparently a high level politician named Theophilus. It is believed that Theophilus later became a follower of Jesus and it is likely that when he did he lost his position of authority as the title does not stay with him when we read Acts 1:1.

In today’s world it seems at times as if all the religious people want to do is judge others, or expect change to become like them. We have to learn a different language, listen to different music, wear different clothes and on and on. The truth is that this seems to contradict the very style of Jesus. Luke understood that, which is why he wrote the book of Luke.

Christians and others say things that are either simply not true, or misleading, just like the very people Luke wrote about. It is one of the reasons I would encourage you to read what the Bible says for yourself. I challenge that God will help you understand on your own, and you can get to the place where you can see what Jesus was like and what he taught for yourself. Just like Theophilus, you can learn from others who have a relationship with Jesus. If you are a person who has a relationship with Jesus, you should realize from the words of Luke. Some need an explanation without beating around the bush, but an explanation they can understand. We need to remember, just as Luke did, Jesus isn’t just for the religious, in fact, one of the beautiful things about following Jesus teachings is that he presented a faith and spirituality that wasn’t religious. The perspective and faith Jesus taught was about a relationship, a relationship that can involve all people, gang members, prostitutes, drug addicts, the homeless, other religions and more. God welcomes all people that have a relationship with his only son, Jesus.

As we go through the day, may we pray that God would help us accept all people, may we see the good and the potential no matter how different or what others in society think. May we see them and love them in the way Jesus did, by serving and meeting not just their spiritual needs, but also their physical needs.

Thought for the day, People don’t like being projects, but they do appreciate being respected and loved.

Can you feel the Love? Check out the video by the one and only Elton John. Just double click on the video. If the video don't appear, click on the following link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGDrV_2ehI



Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blogClick to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.com

You can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217

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

Donations to The Virtual Pew

http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html

The Virtual Pew

The Virtual Pew Blog

Personal Furches Web Site

Mike Furches MySpace Page

Mike Furches MySpace Blog

Hollywood Jesus

Reviews With Mike

The Virtual Pew Sermons

The Virtual Pew News

MySpace Hollywood Jesus Group

MySpace The Virtual Pew Group

The Virtual Pew Live Radio Web Page

To Subscribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed

Phone Number to Call During The Virtual Pew Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8587

Phone Number to Call During The HJ Live Show, (Please never call prior to the start of the show) - (646) 716-8853

To Subcribe to The Virtual Pew Live Feed -http://www.blogtalkradio.com/feeds/thevirtualpew

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Sweet Tarts, Prayer Requests, And Lessons from Lonnie Frisbee

Did you ever have a Sweet Tart? You know that candy that is both sweet and tart and has been around for what seems like forever? There is something incredible about this candy and its simplicity. It is a small round candy; semi hard that will eventually melt in your mouth and in some kind of strange way is able to encompass both a sweet and a tart or sour flavor. It was really the candy that was the predecessor of all the sour candies around now. While newer sour variations have attempted to replicate the old fashioned Sweet Tart, none have perfected the balance of sour and sweet as well.

This weekend was like a Sweet Tart weekend for me. There were some goody moments but also some that left a tart or sour taste in my spirit. Let me digress and explain, hopefully keeping you along for the read, but also challenging you to think about your own life.

The weekend started off kind of sweet, I had just received the DVD Frisbee The Live and Death of a Hippie Preacher in the mail from Amazon. This biographical documentary is actually a DVD I wanted for over a year. I don’t know why I didn’t order it earlier, maybe I was too cheap or couldn’t find it, I don’t know. I decided a few weeks ago to try and find it after I was asked about it by a good friend Mark. I could show it at the church I pastor, Mosaic.

Lonnie Frisbee was a hippie back in the 1960’s and 1970’s that became a Christian while doing LSD. He became one of the most influential pastors of the last hundred years or so. Many would say any Christians who practice in a contemporary fashion owe Lonnie Frisbee a great deal of gratitude. He is accredited with the growth and development of two primary Christian movements that changed the face of Christianity. It is a movement where I came to know Jesus and made the decision to follow him.

Many have called it the Jesus Movement or refer to the Jesus People. Frisbee is largely responsible, some would say solely responsible, for the growth of Calvary Chapel and The Vineyard, yet, many within those two groups have no idea who he is, or what he did because the history books of those groups have essentially written him out of their history. That is a shame, because while Lonnie Frisbee had weaknesses and at times gave into sinful activity which ultimately cost him his life, it should not take away from the contributions he made by allowing himself to be used by God. Our Bible is written in part, by and about men and women who were far from perfect; yet, God still used them and touched them. Lonnie Frisbee should be a reminder to all of us, of how God through brokenness can still work and change lives.

There was also the sweet this weekend of taking time to spend with my daughter, son in law, and my wife. We drove a few miles north of Wichita to North Newton Kansas. It had been some time since I spent any quality time with my daughter and wanted to do so. We walked around the wonderful little town of Newton, ate lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant, purchased a gallon of freshly made apple cider, literally made as we ordered it and walked into some great stores including A Thousand Villages store and an Et Cetera store. In both establishments the proceeds go to help in fair trade mission work and legitimate income and mission work to third world countries. We returned to my daughters, where she had made some wonderful Bierocks a wonderful Mennonite bread pocket stuffed with hamburger and cabbage and a fresh peach crisp for desert. I know it sounds simple but it was really delicious. After a good supper, we all decided to sit down and watch the documentary mentioned above, Frisbee.

During moments of the film, I wept as I reflected on the actions of the church to one of the forefathers of my faith. In the end, I was challenged by this man who was used by God to transform the lives of people like me. It was a reminder to what God had called me to and of the things I needed to do in my own ministry. I feel like I have been torn from that lately, and that didn’t feel well. I was challenged to move forward with the ministry God has called me into.

After awhile, my wife and I returned home and upon getting home I had one of those moments where I got a sour taste in my mouth. I had recently been talking to my wife and others, some of you may even know of the struggles over the last year I have written about regarding the desire to spend time with my mother. My desire was that before she became ill, before something happened to me, or her, I would have the opportunity to develop a mother-son relationship in whatever way we could.

Many know I was abused in various ways by my mother; most know it has been difficult for me. Please don’t say I should forgive and have things be “normal.” For those who would say that, read my book, and then tell me what I should do. Those things aren’t always possible. I have struggled because I know God would have me love those that are unlovable.

My prayer is that God would use my life, allow it to be transformable so people could see and understand, that one walks among them who is willing to take the chance and let God be God. Not the judgmental, hateful God so many follow, but the God who gives strength to forgive things that seem so unforgiveable. My relationship with my mom would be such an example. The fact that I desire that to some may be example enough, but for me, I want more.

As I had been speaking to my wife and others over the weeks, and even that day, my desire was to build this relationship so I could have a mother and have a relationship that only God could provide for at least a small period of time in my life. I covet that relationship, I thirst for it, and I hunger for it. Every child must want this with their mother or father. I know I do.

Upon arriving home from my daughters I had a phone call from my sister. She requested I call her as soon as possible. I have had those phone calls before, maybe you have. There is something about the tone of voice, the mannerisms of how a message sounds that you know something isn’t good. My assumptions were correct.

As I spoke to my sister she informed me that my mother had had a stroke and had according to some “dangerously high” blood pressure. My sister was hurting though, and soon I would be. The hospital refused to share anything with my sister and me even though we are the next of kin. My sister and I, mainly my sister, had been scrambling to find things out. I would begin to gather information that night, but my sister already had a full day’s head start on me. I felt also for her. She lives closest to my mom in Johnson City Tennessee as she lives a few hours away in Augusta South Carolina. I living in Kansas was reminded again of the sacrifice many make when they are involved in ministry. I, like many others in ministry live from week to week, sometimes, like now, barely having the funds to get across the state lines. Yet, here I am some 1,000 plus miles away, feeling I need to be with my sister, and to take what time I have left to give God the chance to work a miracle of healing for my family, and yes, in a selfish way, even for me.

Things go on though, I still have obligations, and I still have commitments. I had to go to church Sunday morning and preach a sermon, that is if you call what I do preaching. I encourage people to talk back to me, that way we can learn, I also share and teach more than I preach. Heck, God knows I am not worthy to talk down to people, I have seen so many pastors do that, I was likely one that did that.

Today’s message was one I had scheduled months ago; it was the History of Revival from the Prayer as a Prelude to Revival series I have been speaking on. Today though, the story of watching the history of the Jesus Movement Revival that had an effect on so many old hippies like myself was fresh, it was fresh because over the last 20 or so hours I had reason to reflect on what God had done for me, on what I still wanted God to do for me. From Lonnie Frisbee and an appreciation of the ministry God had given him that effected and changed my life, to the relationship and desire for healing I still had with my mother.

One of the things that impressed me on the Lonnie Frisbee story was how God continues to use broken, imperfect people to accomplish his will. There is no doubt, that many in the “established church” think and present the need for perfection. They did so with Lonnie Frisbee, he had moments of weakness and suddenly he is cast out of the church, written out of history books, and suddenly it was as if he never existed. This from a man God used to reach tens of thousands of hippies during the 1960’s and 1970’s with the life changing message of Jesus. This from a man many say was as close to a modern day apostle as any human being they had ever met. This from a man who never forgot about the salvation offered by Jesus, and who realized and believed that Jesus really is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

One thing I was reminded of when watching the movie, especially after my evening regarding my mother, was my need to pray the prayer Frisbee prayed before he spoke. I had every intent of doing that today at church; I knew I needed to pray this prayer after arriving at church. I took time to meet with several people prior to church, to pray for them to lift them up, to encourage them. I was going to say something prior to my speaking today. I was getting ready to do this prior to the conclusion of worship when one of the wonderful ladies of the church, Rebecca, sort of beat me to it. Well if the truth be known, she didn’t sort of beat me to it; she did beat me to it. She interrupted before the completion of the last song to have our worship leader, Brandi, do another song, encouraging people to spend time in prayer.

For me, I still felt the need to pray that prayer that Lonnie Frisbee prayed before he spoke, I knew the need for it. Right as Brandi had finished the song, I stepped up on stage, Brandi started to take her guitar off and I told her, “don’t take that thing off yet, we aren’t done.” I shared with the church of my experience with my mom. I tried as I always do to be honest, real, and, vulnerable. I shared how I had been touched by the video Frisbee. I wanted to make sure Mosaic wasn’t the kind of church that spoke a good game of loving others, but we weren’t one that practiced it. In doing this, people needed to be vulnerable themselves, and hopefully, they could see that if their pastor was willing to do that, then it is okay for them. It was after sharing this I told them, “I am going to pray a prayer that is similar to what Lonnie Frisbee used to pray.” I then prayed in all sincerity, and in all honesty. “Holy Spirit Come, Holy Spirit Now.” The prayer was simple, yet sincere; it wasn’t a formulated structured prayer, but a prayer that I sincerely desired for our church.

To those reading this, I am going to say something that you will find hard to believe unless you were at Mosaic on the morning of September 14, 2008. Please understand, I am a skeptics skeptic, I have issue with things like this sometimes as I don’t believe them. I don’t believe in emotional tricks to get people to respond. Lonnie Frisbee didn’t either; it is one of the things I appreciated about him. That said, immediately after the prayer was over, people moved. People came up front to have prayer. I had purchased a couple of weeks ago, some anointing oil to put on people as I prayed for them. I don’t understand the magnitude of why God has us do this, but I can’t change the fact that my Bible tells me to anoint people with oil as I pray for them, so I decided to be obedient, then one after another people came up. People were crying, some weeping in the church. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit heard and responded to the prayer I had modeled after Lonnie Frisbee. It was obvious that others had been praying for revival, there is no doubt that the most simple of prayers, prayed with sincerity and desire was something God would use. There is no doubt that in all of the struggles of the night, that in the sour moments I had experienced, that God, through his Spirit wanted to have not only the sweet taste of salvation in my own mouth, but in the mouths of the people of Mosaic.

Today at Mosaic, God moved. Sure, it was obvious there were a few skeptics to the events of our day. There are the more educated, more structured, more highly seminary trained that will somewhere along the line find reason to be critical of a service that had weeping, praying, and sharing prior to the regular sermon time, but there is also no doubt that those things that prohibit some from feeling and experiencing the free working nature of God’s Holy Spirit also prevent them from being the church that God has called them to be.

I don’t mean this as a slam or put down on any one, on any church. I simply say this because the Jesus we read about in the Bible, the Holy Spirit we read about in the Bible. The Revival fires that took place across the history of the church, are still things God desires for us, but we have to wonder, do we really want those things, or, are we so prohibited and concerned about what others think that we squelch the power of God’s Holy Spirit?

Yea, the last 48 hours or so now has been a roller coaster ride for me. It has been like a Sweet Tart if you will. I think that is going to continue for awhile but that is not such a bad thing as I know that God will be with me on my journey.

I still value your prayers, I need them. That is one of those honest things, I don’t need to beat around the bush about, none of us do, it is a part of what really loving each other is all about. For those of us who have had issue with the “established church”, it is one of the things we don’t have to give in to. We can let the same Holy Spirit that changed lives in the book of Acts, continue to work and change our lives through their power.

As to the things I ask you to pray for, here is where I can be specific. First, I have some needed changes I need to address for my health, but mainly for the ministry God has called me to. I won’t share much here for now other than to say if you want more detail, email me privately. Much of the additional stress and difficulty regarding my health is centered on this area.

I ask and covet prayer for my mother. Her name is Geneva and she is in the Johnson City Medical Center. She has had what they think is a stroke, very high blood pressure that has come down, but still high, and they have found a mass on her left lung which they are doing a biopsy on this week. I pray for her health, I pray for her to come to have a relationship with Jesus, I pray for the opportunity to have a mother son relationship with her, if only for a little while, but ultimately for all of eternity. I pray that it be longer than short, but I pray the Holy Spirit move like never before in her life and decision making process. I pray for direction, the funds to go to Tennessee to provide support for my sister, and to be there some with my mom. The truth is, she could be here for a while yet, but we already know things won’t be the same, currently don’t look good, and in all likelihood my sister and I will have to decide on her care. She may never be able to live alone again.

My mom has her friends and a few family members left in Johnson City. That said neither of her two children lives there. We are both more than willing to have her come live with either of us, but that takes her away from all she grew up with, all she knows, her friends, and I could go on. As you can see, if you think about it, this leads to the need for wisdom, and yet a love that respects the desires and wishes in whatever way we can.

I also request prayer for my sister. She has it harder than my wife and I as she is single and don’t have the highest paying job in the world. She is a sweet girl, and one that is involved in her church and God has touched her through tough times. But as her big brother, I still don’t want her bearing the load. I admit I feel bad about this; I want the best for my sister. While I have had issues with my mother, my sister, (her name is Andrea, but I never called her anything but Sissy) is one who went through much of what I did, she had to live the life I did but I left home before her and she had to endure in some ways, more. I have never forgotten that and struggled most of my life that I should have been there more for my little sister. Please pray that God would give her wisdom, strength, and the finances she needs to meet her needs.

I will leave it at that for now; there are many things here to pray for. There is work to be done but you know what? My God, My Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that fills and lives in my soul, is as I mentioned earlier, the same yesterday, today, and forever. They would choose that none would perish, but experience and obtain everlasting life, and experience it in fullness. May we all, care enough for each other to love, and enough for God to serve and be the Jesus to the lost and dying world he so much loves. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you have gotten something out of this you can use in your life. May the God that made us all, who provided us with the hope of salvation through his son, and gave us His Spirit to Lead us, be glorified, lifted up and praised.

The following includes some wonderful historical videos of Lonnie Frisbee, as well as some comments regarding Lonnie's impact. Just double click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0-r4XbTJrw



Movie Trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARDNTEWWuRQ



Reflections on Lonnie Frisbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQx0AaaQ3ZE



God Can Use Us All, Even the Homosexual

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Viefa3OCc



Lonnie Frisbee's Conversion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp7ciU4shVg



Lonnie Frisbee Mothers Day Message 1980

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z_cH7XA3Fw




Click Here to Go to The Virtual Pew Daily Verse and Read The Bible in a Year Passages

Click here for booking information to have Pastor Mike come speak or perform, from speaking to music or magic, something for all groups.

Click to visit with Pastor Mike regarding any of your needs. He will respond to each request personally, and if need be refer you to one of our other pastors.

Click to visit and join the new group The Virtual Pew, at MySpace. Become a part of a different kind of Christian group, check out the page for more information,all welcome, including those who are not followers of Jesus.

Click to visit the Virtual Pew Website and become a part of that ministry.

Click to subscribe to my blog

Click to visit and join our sister group at MySpace Hollywood Jesus.

Now for those that do not know, make sure you check out the numerous articles and blogs by checking out the archives. If visiting The Virtual Pew or MySpace they are archived on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down to where you see newer or older listed under archives and then click there. There are hundreds of postings so make sure to check out the archives. You can also contact me for a free e-book pre edit version of The Keystone Kid at mike@thevirtualpew.comYou can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page down on the left side you sill see our store. Your purchase provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something to purchase you can click on the search engine, (do not put anything in the search box at this time). You will be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. 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

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

No Cigs or Enquirer Here: A Man of Integrity

Saturday was an interesting day. I haven’t lived in a small community for some time and this Saturday I got to enjoy some of the benefits of a small town. I had been sick as of recent but after a little nudging from my wife she encouraged me to get up out of bed and go to the small festival in the town we live.

The Clearwater Fall Festival was fun; there was food booths, amusement park rides, local talent both singing and dancing, and then a mud volleyball tournament. After an Indian Fried Taco, taking in some of the mud volleyball tournament, my wife and I decided to go to the local bull riding. Unfortunately, either our times were off, or the bull riding had been rained out from the previous night, and that day’s rain. While that was a letdown, we decided to go ahead and visit our local grocery store and pick up some ice cream to take home and enjoy.

Mize’s is a small grocery store I love. The prices are compatible, even better often times than some of the big chains and/or local Wal-Mart, and it is small enough that you can get good service, and always find a friend to talk to. Other than not carrying a large enough supply of diet soft drinks, I can find about anything I want at this small town grocery store. It was while checking out, with the now $30 of groceries we ended up purchasing after we went in to buy ice cream only, that I noticed and was reminded of a past experience, some 25 or so years earlier of working at a grocery store as a stock and carry out boy.

I had just moved to Hillsboro Kansas, another small community north of Wichita some 40 miles or so. I had grown up in a large city, was now away from my wife and new daughter whom I had left back in Tennessee. I had felt God calling me back to college, and the reality was, I needed to go immediately. I drove to Kansas in a Volkswagen station wagon, and didn’t have a job, a house to stay in, nor was I enrolled in school. I write about this quite a bit in my book The Keystone Kid and the full story is there and available for free and for the asking. I was reminded on this weekend though, while at Mize’s of a man I had gained respect for some years ago at a little grocery store in Hillsboro named at the time, Paul and Rays Thriftway.

Paul and Ray were two friends who had started up one of two grocery stores in Hillsboro. They are noted for their world famous Hillsboro sausage but I will never forget Paul, and especially Ray. Ray stands close to 5 feet tall, but is one of the biggest men I have ever known. He has a firm hand shake, a smile on his face, and a desire to love and help people like few I have ever met.

Hillsboro is known for a few things, one is its Mennonite Brethren heritage, it is known by many as the Mecca of the Mennonite Brethren people, but it is also known for Tabor College. It is a small community of some 2,500 or so people and a wonderful town. Ray Franz is a man in this community, along with his wife Aldina, who has had a tremendous impact on this community and they are two people whom have spoken volumes to me by the way they live in regards to the concept of integrity.

Tabor College, while a small private school, is a school that has made an appeal to reach out to, and educate all kinds of kids, from all walks of life. It is not an inexpensive school, in fact, for many like me; it could be considered quite expensive. Ray Franz however has likely done more to assist young men and women attend Tabor College than many will ever realize.

Ray took me in to a job at Paul and Ray’s right off the bat. Very few questions were asked by him, and he saw this as another opportunity to help a young man, and possibly his family out. Ray saw to it that I got enrolled in school, he helped me set up interviews for my wife who was still back in Tennessee but would miraculously move out in less than two weeks, he did so much to help out this young man named Mike Furches.

Most employers would never go out of their way to help a new employee in the way Ray did for me. I realized after some years while working there, I wasn’t the only one Ray had went out of his way to do this with. He did it in an unspoken, yet loving way for many students who would go through Hillsboro on their journey which included Tabor College. He went out of his way to show love, and was a tool God used to help in so many ways, whether it be flexible hours related to work, or a large Christmas bonus that would allow me to provide Christmas for my family. There was the times we got groceries for free because we couldn’t afford them, this man showed and lived the concept of love.

This last weekend, as I stood in line at Mize’s I realized something else Ray did though. As I stood in line, I noticed the trash journalism rags like The National Enquirer, The Star, and so many others that present horrendous journalism, often times at the expense of others in order to simply sell magazines. Then I also noticed the cigarette racks filled with Tobacco, sold to virtually anyone of age who wanted them, yet without concern as to the damage they may be doing to one’s health. I thought of Ray, because Ray Franz was a man that lived out his convictions.

Ray is a man who lives his Christian principles. He did something, made a sacrifice that had an impact on his income. For the time I knew Ray, for the time I worked at Paul and Ray’s, Ray did something that has stuck with me all of these years later. He refused to sell alcohol because of the potential harm he felt alcohol may do to someone with an alcohol problem. He also lived out his convictions regarding the sale of tobacco products and the sale of trashy magazines and newspapers; he refused to sale them. Ray would simply state, he couldn’t imagine Jesus supporting those things, so he didn’t know how he could. I have to say, the conviction of his beliefs has always come to mind for me. Ray Franz is an example of living your convictions. One may not agree with the totality of those convictions, but he made them, lived them at a sacrifice to himself. I don’t care who you are, one can appreciate that.

Now I don’t know why suddenly the convictions of this man would come to my mind these 25 or so years later while checking out of a little grocery store some 50 or so miles to the Southwest of Hillsboro, but they did, and on occasion still do. I guess it is because I am reminded of integrity and conviction of belief. I am reminded at how lacking I am at times, and yet, how God has given me examples of how I can do better. God used the example of another human, one who gave my family and I love, love when he didn’t have to, and love in a way that was beyond just words. I have no excuse!

Some years later now, much of what Ray has done has gone unnoticed in the community he lives in, yet it shouldn’t have. He has single handedly provided opportunity for young men and women to obtain an education when few others would or couldn’t. He has hired students when he didn’t have jobs or money available to hire them. He provided gifts to assist those students when he didn’t have to. He provided meals, love, friendship and a real example of what it means to follow and live as Jesus has instructed. I said for years, and still do; Tabor College needs to recognize this man and his wife for the contributions they have made to Tabor College in a real and tangible way. He had an impact on my life, and hopefully, my life has had an impact on thousands of others. If however, it has only had an impact on a few others, then Ray Franz is largely responsible for that as he was a tool God used to mold and establish my faith, and my conviction of practicing my faith.

You know, Ray Franz is still alive, still lives in Hillsboro Kansas with his house on the edge of the Tabor College Athletic fields. It is likely you will see him at a home football game, or in the back yard watching the soccer team play and it is also likely, that you will see and hear from others whose life was touched by this man. I am not one for awards and that type of thing as meaning that much. I’m not one for many of those things because far too often, the real life changers go unnoticed, unknown, and unrecognized. Ray falls into that category, at least until now, at least for this moment. Ray Franz and Aldina are two people I love, and will treasure the time we have together in eternity. May we all realize that when we give a hand of love to those around us, we leave an impact that can last a life time, I know, because I know Ray Franz.

Ray is on the first row, on the far right.

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