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 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,, or You can also email him at

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.

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