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July 2006

I have been on a little blogging vacation in order to host out-of-town visitors, put out some ministry fires, start some other ministry fires, and take some day trips. I  will be posting in earnest now.

In the meantime, here are some quotes that have touched my heart or funny bone:

God put me on earth to do a certain number of things.
Right now I'm so far behind I'll never die.
-- Calvin in
Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Waterson

Grace and healing are communicated through the vulnerability of men and women who have been fractured and heartbroken by life."  -- Brennan Manning, Abba's Child

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
-- Scott Adams

You can observe a lot by watching.  -- Yogi Berra

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.  -- Mark Twain

How will I know what I think
until I see what I write?
-- Lewis Carroll

Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, "Why me?" Then a voice answers, "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up."   -- Charlie Brown in Peanuts, by Charles Schultz

Thanks goes to Craig for posting these and others on his Quotations pages. Great collection, Craig! Craig, wherever you are, start posting again!

Two Polls

I have been conducting two polls - one in the Religion Forum and one in the Christian Fellowship Forum on giving, tithing, and philanthropy. They are not my most successful polls, but I am really curious about the results and how they may vary between the two forums where they are worded differently to suit the demographics of the membership.

The polls from Christian Fellowship is very simple and straightforward and is built on the concept of "tithing," and followed by an interesting discussion of whether or not it is a New Testament ideal. The poll is Religion is browader based and weighted toward motivations from giving. They are found on their respected home pages, linked above. You are welcome to participate.

Catching Up on Catch Phrases

"Everyone knows that ..."

"They did a study that concluded that ..."

"It has been proven that ..."

"Doctors tell us that ..."

"Jesus spoke more about ..."

The truth is, we are not all that careful about what we declare to be true and universally accepted as truth. If we say and hear something enough, we start to believe it with unquestioning conviction and declare it with intolerance for anyone who would dare to question our assumptions or sources.

But how often do we go back and reexamine our sources and question our own assumptions?

There are two areas where I believe we should be very picky about the details: when we make business claims and when we declare biblical truth.

All we have in business is our credibility and integrity and in ministry, we represent the credibility and integrity of God. It is better to be tentative, uncertain, and humble than to be boisterously confident without the strength of truth behind us. There are quote, quips, and "factoids" that make convincing business selling points or dynamic preaching points that have absolutely no basis in fact. We should avoid these or at least preface them with a disclaimer.

I stumbled on a very impressive blog the other day. I can't tell how much I agree or disagree with this brother because he is so thoughtful and fair. There are many things that impress me about David Wayne's Jolly Blogger, like the way he has done his homework and integrated a wealth of information, and the huge amount of traffic he is getting daily.

Perhaps what impressed me most was how he is willing to tackle tough issues and think outside any box while nurturing a high regard for scripture and an open handed willingness to embrace those with whom he disagrees. I spent a lot of time there and gleaned this quote:

I recently came across a good post and discussion on Verum Serum about how much Jesus spoke of hell. Apparently someone made the statement that Jesus spoke about hell more than heaven, so John at Verum Serum checked it out to see if it was true and he came to the conclusion, just be doing a word count that Jesus speaks more about heaven than hell. More at Jolly Blogger : Did Jesus Talk ...?

David does his homework with the only source we have that can be authoritative in this matter - the Bible. The conclusion is surprising.

Talk about tackling a time-honored truism and being willing to question a much ballyhooed coffin nail. How many preachers will be left with only a two point sermon if they take this study seriously?

I heard once of a famous preacher whose son was also a very fine up and coming preacher, but whose studies of the Bible had led him to a different eschatological position than his dad. His father said, "That's OK son. We agree on what's most important, but you sure are giving up a lot of good preaching material."

Perhaps, but he was willing to follow the truth wherever it led and tell only the truth that he could substantiate.

What would happen in business and ministry if we just told the truth and were more careful about it than we have been in the past? How many catch phrases might we have to abandon? How much fresher would our message be?

There is no substitute for credibility and integrity. If it it is costly to be honest, it is costlier in the long run not to be.


For Your Health
Nutritionals  - Natural from Nutrilite
Give the Perfect Gift - Let Them Choose
Baptist Temple Stuff

Your Online Fundraising Campaign Fund raising program. Your Online Fundraising Campaign We are have seen success and potential with Magazine fundraising with this link.If you don't need a fund raiser and just want to help an inner city church, click this link.

Just As I Was Talking About Money ...

Discuss this posting at The Religion Forum with this message: (Interfaith Discussion) or the Fellowship Forum at this message: (Christian Fellowship Discussion).

Below is a copy of an exchange I recently (this morning)had. Missing are some awful pictures of a little girl with burns all over her body. It is heart-rending. The distribution list is churches of my denomination. There is a personal address and a bank address included, but not verifiable data. My response tells it all. If I find out this is reputable, you and the members of Religion Forum and Christian Fellowship Forum will be the first to know.

I have been doing some posting some articles and links on money over the last few days - making it, using it, and giving it responsibly. One of the dangers of the many appeals we receive is that since most of them are hoaxes, we either give irresponsibly or grow cold and unresponsive. Neither option is attractive. The solution is prayerful homework. In my note back to the solicitor and the distribution list, I offer to do that and give a couple of links that will assist.

I hope that I am proven wrong because there is a real kid in that picture. I'd like to see HER get the help she needs. I sadly suspect that it will be through some other avenue, but stand ready, with apron unfolded and fork in hand to eat my words.

C*** C*** S***,

I have a great deal of compassion for the child in the pictures. What an awful time she must be having. She is in my prayers and I would like to help her. How can I be sure that by sending you and check and forwarding this rather nebulous e-mail I will do so?

I suggest that you find someone reputable and known to us to verify and endorse your request and an existing church or non-profit here in the states to receive your funds for you and channel them to the medical providers. There are also several international agencies that might be able to assist. Someone in the vast e-mail distribution list may have specific suggestions.

There was no documentation with your e-mail, only a mass mailing to addresses down-loadable from the Internet with a request to send money to your personal account and start a chain of forwards that somewhere along the way would produce some funding. Follow the steps of accountability and convince me that this is a real request with real financial accountability and I will pass on your story through my network and on my sites. Otherwise, it will come across as one of many scams and chain letters we receive daily - only this time, with pictures. That may not be the case, but you can eliminate all doubt by handling this differently. Having done so, you will remove obstacles like me and my  rather significant Internet influence.

Your message seems a lot like that reported here at  except that in this e-mail you are actually asking for money.

What we need is the ability to verify this information independently of your e-mail. Write me back if you want my help building a case for your requests. I will be happy to help you by making phone calls and researching possibilities. I will be following this matter on my blog and in my forums and reporting the results I receive. I will omit the pictures and your name and e-mail address at this time. If everything turns out to be "above board," that will be a help to you.

I wish this little girl all the best and will be praying for her.

- Tom Sims
The Dream Factory - a good subscription for anyone's feed reader -- or* if you use a Yahoo reader.

C**** S*** S*** wrote:

Note: forwarded message attached.  


Please Help My Daughter !!!
Fri, 30 Jun 2006 03:38:03 -0700 (PDT)


HELP !!!
My daughter was severely burnt and need USD25,000.00 for undergo long period treatment.
Pls forward this message to any people you know.
Sincere donation of any amount can save my daughter life.





Omitted ....

IF YOU NEED FURTHER INFO, PLEASE EMAIL ME AT ... <address omitted > ...

BT - Loving the City

mikIm000294We couldn't understand why the roof of our church building kept leaking and would not hold a repair. Finally, we called in the big guns and they confirmed what we had suspected for a while, majoy truss failure. The whole thing would need to be engineered again and structurally rebuilt from the inside out. It was going to cost us.

First, we had to decide if it was worth it. Churches were moving from the city to the suburbs. Our members had been gradually doing the same and joining churches with attractive buildings and programs where they could get lost. The decision came down to calling. Were we called to serve the city or not? Was our location stratgic for God's purposes. Were we willing to stay and minister in an urban setting.

The answer was to stay. After that was made, we had to raise what was for us a great deal of money - nearly three times our annual income. We did. Not only that, we met in a construction zone for over a year.

There is a story to tell about a price that has been paid and is continuing to be paid. There is never enough money and not enough manpower, but here is what is happening:

Never in the history of Baptist Temple, the church with a name so funny, we call it the Fellowship of Joy, has such a tiny core group gotten as much done in the city. We host four congregations: Hmong, Set Free, Spanish and English, have a bilingual service every Sunday, co-sponsor a men's home, host the Christian Women's Job Corp, take care of Graffiti for a square mile and a half around the church while mentoring at-risk kids, have an active skate church ministry, keep a food pantry going, participate in Angel Food, conduct Bible Studies or some ministry on and off site every day of the week, are about to launch a new church start in a farming community, and provide chaplains in several areas of the city.

And that is not the whole story.

And this has happened while losing the biggest part of our giving and leadership base through death, attrition, job movement, and weariness.

We aren't going anywhere. We have great dreams and great faith. Sure, we'd love to have some folks come alongside us and catch the vision, but if they don't we don't intend to lose it.

God loves the city and the people who live in the city. The city is Fresno, California and we are the Fellowship of Joy.

My dream is to be able to continue to serve God in that community and beyond without regard for whether it can pay or not (at the moment, it does and that's the way my church likes it) - and to train other young men and women who will do the same in the city and in hard to reach outlying communities in the U.S. and around the world.

It can get pretty exciting sometimes.
Your Online Fundraising Campaign Fund raising program. Your Online Fundraising Campaign

We are have seen success and potential with Magazine fundraising with this link.If you don't need a fund raiser and just want to help an inner city church, click this link.

FriendsFor Fellowship of Joy Items:

Excerpt from: A Burning Bush

Eric Blauer is a pastor with a transformational ministry. He posts some challenging - out of the box - material. His article of money is biblical and no doubt, controversial. It needs to be heard.

Coming across his blog is my first introduction to Eric and I hope, not the last. He has several blogs - all worth a look-see.

A Burning Bush: "
We want to be a blessing to our community but not a bank or loan officer and that means we have to teach the truth that sets people free and empowers them to own their lives, and become people that have dominion over their finances and are not slaves to money, debt, materialism or greed."

How we see money, think about it, master it, or are moved by it is a function of our how much transformation has taken place in our own lives.

The fact that urban ministries, such as the one I pastor, desparately need money, is not justification for manipulating theology or people into a temple-based teaching mode or guilt-oriented appeals.

Giving is a biblical standard and it is bigger than church offering envelopes. I agree with Eric that the idea of the tithe is a carry-over from the Old Testament. That makes it a shadow designed to teach a principle. Biblical giving is "to God" and that can mean to a widow or an an orphan.

It is also biblical to make money, empower other people to make money, and spend and pay bills responsibly.

It goes to the issue of how highly resourced, often suburban churches distribute their wealth in kingdom causes.

Copublished in Transformational Communities.


For Your Health
Nutritionals  - Natural from Nutrilite
Give the Perfect Gift - Let Them Choose
Baptist Temple Stuff

What's Hot from the Christian Fellowship Forum

First Century Christians & Abortion
The Didache on abortion & infanticide. But what is the Didache?
House Church Growth in the USA
The Barna group has interesting findings on house churches.

Christians and Wealth

Co-published at The Entrepreneur's Table.

There is some wonderful and thoughtful material on this blog which I will be returning to read and ponder. This relates to the subject in Entrepreneur's Table because Christians, and especially social/spiritual entrepreneurs struggle with it. Is it honorable to make money?

Flying Embers: "Wealth brings independence, a satisfaction that your family will be able to enjoy a comfortable home and weather life’s storms. I could go on and list countless other things that wealth brings without damning your soul.
So, I thought I would begin to post articles concerning the attainment of wealth the way Godly people through all ages have accomplished it.
These are the time tested, righteous pursuits of wealth that have worked in all generations. It will be worth our while to carefully consider what the wealthy say about the attainment of riches."

I'll be checking in to see what I can learn.

Co-published at The Dream Factory

From Transformational Communitites

I borrowed this from my Transformational Communities blog.

Gordon Cotterill says that his blog consists of the theological reflections of an insignificant Salvation Army officer. Not so insignifican I think. Gordon's observations, espcially as he tackles lost themes, go straight to the heart of what transformational communities are called to be. For example:

URBANarmy: Lost Themes of Mission - Shalom...: "It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain in the flower power '60's lexicon. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a cosy, oozey nice feelings about each other concept. It is sad that we as a Church have allowed the concept of shalom to remain a carved olive wood curio bought back by Holy Land travelers to sit on our desks, hang on our walls! What is really sad is when we work so hard at ignoring the concept, worried that the concept might in some insidious way be obscuring our true 'church' work, working up our apologetics to turn a blind eye to its centrality. Sad above all we ignore our responsibility and that in all our efforts we dishonour God."

I think I will add this feed to my regular reading.

FWIW - He is so right about SHALOM. We say it flippantly, but not so, our spiritual ancestors. Whenever they so blessed one another, it was an investment. Gordon's review of David Bosch compells me to read his work more carefully as well.


The Tabled Table

I have not forgotten the TABLE acronym for Entrepreneur's Table  (See also Entrepreneur's Table on Blogger). I just haven't been able to sit there for a while. The T - was for Timely Topics and Transferable Themes. We dealt with some of those. The A was for Attitudes and we introduced that subject. The B was for Building Blocks and we dealt only with the first ( and only a couple of those. Those blocks were Principles, Priorities, People Skills, and Process. The L, whenever we get to it, is Lifestyle and the E is for Ethics.

We addressed some principles and we will be coming back and forth to them - in fact to all of these.

What I want to touch to this evening is one observation about people skills. We know that a big chunk of anyone's success in job or business is capacity to get along with people and that it outqweighs talent, intelligence, and even hard work. Great ideas cannot compensate for a nasty disposition.

Here is the observation. People without people skills often take a dim view of the progress of people who have them.

They are called by names that I really don't use or like to write, but you know them. Frequently, we find disgruntled people complaining about all of the "politics."

Not all job and organizationa; "politics" is good - much of it is not, but what some people call "politics" is a small percentage of the work/business force going out of their way to get along with people, show respect for customers and employers, and resolving conflict in a positive way. The rest of it, is about people not doing that and reaping the consequences.

More on this later.

Five People - One Life

I don't know when I last sat down to read a novel, but I did so today at a church member's insistence and I am glad I did.

It was an easy sell because I loved Mitch Alboms "Tuesdays with Morrie." So, I started reading "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" in earnest today. I read a few pages earlier in the week and I knew it would grab me when I had time.

I have to say that when I see something with the word "Heaven" in it, I am preconditioned to want to weed out misconceptions and leave a residue of sound theology and unknowable mystery. "Five People" is not a theological monograph; nor is it a New Age cloud of feel-goodisms. It is, as Albom says, a story about life and its meaning.

If you want to place it in a theological context, it is something like the judgment seat where the wood, hay, and stubble are separated from the gold, silver, and precious stones.

But it is not that either.

It is a celebration of life in an atmosphere of grace that embraces all of life, scars and stains, regrets and nightmares, disappointments and guilt as well as those moments that we cherish however fleeting.

It touched me.

Read it with a tissue handy - unless you didn't need one for Forest Gump, Field of Dreams, or the Passion of the Christ - unless you have no unresolved and nagging sense that maybe your life is something less than you'd hoped it would be - unless you need to fit this into your systematic theology.

It is not an allegory; it is not sentimental; it is not preachy. It is honest, affirming, and gutsy. Mitch Albom reflects on simple things and common hurts and enters into the experience of a character inspired by his uncle to bring us to the conclusion that our lives, interconnected and imperfect, have meaning and that the most mundane task is purposeful in the greater scheme of things.
Without even mentioning scripture, he illustrates scriptural principles such as forgiveness, love, providence, and peace with compelling sensitivity. We can learn these lessons in the hear and now. We can embrace life now. We can live on and in purpose.

What the character, Eddie learns in Heaven, we can learn in the gospel.

I will be reflecting on my own life over the next few days. Tomorrow, I will preach the good news of Jesus Christ. I will finally arrive, in the book of Romans, after a long indictment, to that place where we can proclaim that while we are all "mark-missers" (ie ... "sinners), there is a righteousness that is not arrived at through legality or ritual, available through grace. I will also be preaching from Luke on the healing grace of Jesus Christ.

If only I could communicate these timeless truths with as much grace and sensitivity as Mitch Albom communicated this story.

I read a great deal of non-fiction. Maybe I'll start reading an ocassional novel.


For Your Health
Nutritionals  - Natural from Nutrilite
Give the Perfect Gift - Let Them Choose
Baptist Temple Stuff
Relgion Forum - What's Hot

Organ Donation & Religion
What do various religions instruct us about organ donation? Share your thoughts and experiences.
No Command of 10 Commandments
Cue cards needed? Congressman supports bill to display Ten Commandments can only name three.