November 2007


Ohio State-Michigan meet with Rose Bowl berth on the line

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Even without a trip to the national title game at stake, Ohio State-Michigan is huge.

Ohio State’s hopes of returning to the BCS title game took a hit last week with its first loss of the season. The seventh-ranked Buckeyes still have plenty to play for Saturday at the Big House against No. 23 Michigan.

With a win, Ohio State (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) would:

– match its longest winning streak in the rivalry at four straight.

– win a third straight conference championships, including consecutive outright titles for the first time in a half-century.

– likely earn a spot in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997.

“It isn’t the BCS championship game, but the tradition of the Rose Bowl is great and we hope to be a part of that greatness,” punter A.J. Trapasso said. “It would be nice to finish the season in that bowl.”

Michigan (8-3, 6-1) is desperately hoping to play in Pasadena for the fourth time in five years, quite a prize for a team that opened the season with a stunning loss to Appalachian State and blowout loss to Oregon.

The Wolverines star senior trio of quarterback Chad Henne, running back Mike Hart and offensive lineman Jake Long have never beaten Ohio State. Coach Lloyd Carr is trying to avoid becoming the first Michigan coach to lose six of seven games in the series that dates to 1897.
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Just for today I digress to share with you an important event. At high noon Ohio State will play Michigan. It is no longer about the BCS championship but it is about pride and bragging rights. I have ESPN on the wall next to me, the television on in front of me. I have the ultimate indoor tailgate party developing.

By the Way – I am also predicting that Cincinnati will beat West Virginia

Ministry Focus – Next Year I will have the same party and invite my non Christian friends to watch the game under the condition they know that I am going to share the Gospel and pray with them at half time. This will be an excellent opportunity to minister to men. (And I am not being sexist)

Each Sunday morning, millions of Americans head to worship houses or gather around their television to listen to televangelists’ faith-filled sermons.

 The preachers leading the flock rely heavily on donations from their faithful followers, who give nearly $100 billion annually. But some, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), question how the churches are allocating their funds.

“We need to make sure that the sanctity of tax exemption for charitable giving is preserved, respected… maintains its credibility,” Grassley said.

Grassley said he was prompted to action by whistleblowers before he sent six letters to television ministries and demanded they explain their alleged lavish spending, among allegations of $23,000 marble toilets.

 The televangelists have one month to respond to the Senate inquiry, which is voluntary. The senator has requested information from the following people and churches: Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga.; Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga.; Joyce and David Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo.; Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas; and Randy and Paula White of the multi-racial Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, Fla., according to The Associated Press.

 Dollar, who requested funds to purchase a jet for his church, defended his position.

 “Like a carpenter has to have a hammer to do his job, I’ve got to have a plane to fly around this world and be back here to pastor two churches — one here and one in New York,” Dollar said.  Dollar, who requested funds to purchase a jet for his church, defended his position.

 “Like a carpenter has to have a hammer to do his job, I’ve got to have a plane to fly around this world and be back here to pastor two churches — one here and one in New York,” Dollar said.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE 

The popular media rarely reports on the Christian Church in a positive manner.  This article is no exception. I am not a fan of prosperity/celebrity preachers but I do have some questions before pronouncing guilt or innocence.

What are the staffing costs?  Are the salaries for the responsibilities equivalent to the secular salaries in their metropolitan areas?  What types of benevolence is given to members of the congregation and to the community?  How much do they give in outreach?  What is their facilities cost?

The millions of dollars that we are seeing spent do not reflect the Church of Jesus Christ.  Jesus took 12 men and lived among them with no place to call “home”.  One on One interaction to teach people a new way of life and walk with them through the process of life transformation (discipleship) was the model of The Master.  Jesus cared more about the marginalized people than anyone else.  In fact as I quickly scan the scriptures I see Jesus hanging out with a lot of people who were not included in the social, political or religious elite.   Zacchaeus was a tax collector and unwelcome in his own community.  The woman with an issue of blood was ceremonially unclean and lived on the outskirts of the city. The 10 lepers probably lived in the same neighborhood.  The Samaritan woman was an outcast in two communities.  The man by the pool of Bethesda depended on other people for everything.  Where are these preachers fulfilling the model of Christ?  Since I do not know all of the answers to these questions I am slow to reach any conclusions or judgments of ministry ethics violations.   I do believe that the mega-church is antithetical to the biblical model of church that we see in the scriptures.

You can not have koinonia in a mega church structure.  Yes there are small communities in most large churches but it is hard to have table fellowship with 5000 on a regular basis.  Why build a multi million worship facility to be used once (maybe twice) a week when you  equip 100s of pastors and plant them in the communities where they live to provide a community of faith rather than a celebrity following.

Don’t forget that Richard Roberts is under investigation for dipping into the college’ endowment funds for personal expenses.  Where is the accountability? Where are the elders?  Where is the church council? I notice that John Cherry, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Bishop Charles Blake and Floyd Flake,  are not under investigation. They are also not prosperity preachers. What are these pastors doing differently?  Is this a prelude to eliminating the 501 (c) 3 status for all churches?

By the way – I have been accused of being jealous. I am critical of the way we do church period after studying the New Testament.  I am challenging the clergy to critically reflect on their calling.  Everybody wants to live in relative comfort but the excess is what I am arguing against.

If you want to donate me your Bentley or jet I will accept it and probably sell it and use the funds to dig wells and provide clean drinking water in a developing country. (Maybe I should put a donation button on my blog)

(CBS) Stand back all bosses! A new breed of American worker is about attack everything you hold sacred: from giving orders, to your starched white shirt and tie. They are called, among other things, “millennials.” There are about 80 million of them, born between 1980 and 1995, and they’re rapidly taking over from the baby boomers who are now pushing 60.They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.

As correspondent Morley Safer reports, corporate America is so unnerved by all this that companies like Merrill Lynch, Ernst & Young, Disney and scores of others are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation that only takes “yes” for an answer.

The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.

This is a report from 60 Minutes on the Millennial Generation  It is especially informative for churches in revitalization.  As we pray and discern our target ministry population it pays to understand the cultural dynamics of the population.  Analog churches will be challenged to reach digital generation people.  Churches that are dedicated to print media without simultaneously developing their digital presence will be obsolete in less than 10 years.  Churches that are in revitalization should pay attention to the millennials and develop ministries that will introduce this generation to Jesus Christ in ways that are relevant to their life experience.

 writers-strike.jpeg

Feet and signs are visible behind a banner as pickets march outside the entrance to Twentieth Century-Fox Studios in Los Angeles as a strike by film and television writers got under way Monday, Nov. 5, 2007. The contract between the 12,000-member Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producer expired Oct. 31. Talks that began this summer failed to produce much progress on the writers’ key demands for a bigger slice of DVD profits and revenue from the distribution of films and TV shows over the Internet. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

This will give us more time to study the scriptures and spend quality time with our families.  This could be the perfect opportunity for a revival.   Prayer groups can conference call, online bible studies can add additional topics, and support groups for people addicted to television should flourish.  This is also a great time to desensitize yourself of all of the pre-advent marketing.

The writers strike gives us insight to the changing world of digital media and its effect on culture.  One of the challenges is that the mainline church has ignored the emergence of this culture and has a difficult time in reaching the masses whose lives are dominated by Iphones, ipods, email, text messages, Facebook.com, video web conferencing  and digitally downloaded movies to 5 inch screens.

Many mainline churches, especially urban and inner city churches,  struggle to hold a conference call, find it difficult to communicate to the congregation through email, don’t have a web site and also do not understand the value of having a web site. Churches that were previously vital and progressive in the 60s, 70s and 80s where the demographics of the community have changed can see the class and the ethnic differences but they miss the cultural shift that has allowed them to become obsolete and lack relevance to the community around them.

The writers strike will affect us.  The question is how will we make lemonade

The Worship Rock Scene

This is a NY Times video article that really discusses the changing culture and worship.

Is Worship Healthy?
Rev. Michelle Holmes Chaney

Why yes it is? If worship, showing the worth of God in Jesus Christ, is not what we manage to squeeze into an hour or so on Sundays and special occasions, but instead every thought word and deed we claim to think, say or do in response to our understanding of what it means to be a disciple. And yes, if healthy refers not to our medical/physical state but instead to the ability to find and maintain balance in our lives that requires God be first, and God actually is.

There have even been medical studies which can confirm this connection between worship attendance and health. A 1998 Study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine found that, “For the elderly, religion may do more than ease the soul. In fact, attendance at religious services may actually improve physical health and psychological well-being.” I don’t think you could convince your doctor that attending a one hour worship service five days a week would be a good substitute for the 20 minutes a day your doctor wants you to walk. But I do think that reflecting on the connection between our bodies, our health, and worship is worth the exploration.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1

Notice the connection between our bodies and worship in this text. All throughout the Old Testament we hear God repeatedly asking for sacrifices that are pure, unblemished, the first and the best. Why do we think we are somehow exempt? Let’s be honest if some of us were Abraham’s son, in our current state of health, I could hear God saying, “You know what…never mind!” I am all for giving God all our worries about our blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and bad feet. But let’s not try to give God high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and bad feet. During this month let’s try to find ways to make our worship healthy. And let me know what you come up with. I need all the help I can get!