The truth is, I never fancied myself as a very good writer, in fact, when it came to the grammatical aspect, I consider myself a pretty poor writer. I am just now learning the times I should use were instead of where, and to from too. Fact is, without a spell and grammar check on the word processor, I would be in all kinds of trouble. For some of the publications I submit to, I can't tell you how grateful I am for editors.
Now on the other hand, I do think I have a knack for telling stories, and coming up with different ideas. I have had numerous people talk about my originality and things like that. I hadn't thought much about it until recently I started getting more responses regarding some of the things I have written, some written with artistic liberty, others written while using metaphor or allegory. I guess I am developing though because a recent comment that at least someone actually took one of my postings as literal got me to think about the intent of at least this one posting and blog/article.
I received an email from a dear friend this morning that someone had contacted them regarding the fact that I had been arrested for sex crimes and stealing when in fact I had not. It had to do with a blog I had written which you can view by clicking here, or you can click here for the MySpace blog where you can see some of the responses to that particular blog. You will also see the new tag at the front of the story describing it is a figurative blog. I didn't want to originally do the tag because one of the things I have been told is I am decent at is getting people to feel and relate to what I write. Sometimes, the shock value, more of a physical inclination, is beneficial to get people to understand aspects of the words on the page. It is a tricky and sometimes dangerous place, as is indicated in this particular instance because it is difficult to find a place where people can distinguish truth from fiction. This is a difficulty song writers often experience as people think their songs are all true, when in reality, they are often not.
In this case it was a figurative story illustrating we all do wrong and need to be careful how we relate to others. It was done from a mock press release type of form that uses Chapters 1 - 3 from the book of Romans in the Bible. I thought it would be clear I was writing the story from a figurative sense, but apparently to at least some, they thought it was true. I'm not upset how people received it, but am kind of surprised some didn't know what the intent of the blog/article was. By the way, I should mention why I use the term's "blog" intertwined with "article." I actually write what I consider a regular article for the web site The Virtual Pew. I use all of those on the various forms of The Virtual Pew and then blog them onto my MySpace account. Thus it is an article used as a blog. Hope this all makes sense but I know the difference between the two, and in this instance the two definitions intertwine with each other. Now back to point.
The truth is, I try to write in as much of a non religious perspective in both content and style as possible. Some ask why? The reason, at least in my own mind is clear. I am not writing for a "religious" culture. I am writing for a culture that for whatever reason has been burned out on religion, rejected religion, or just don't understand religion. It is a concept that many within Christianity have spoken about for years, yet not applied in their day to day lives. For example, we talk about how Christianity is not a religion but a relationship, then we go back to being "religious." I do believe, it is possible with some effort, to divorce the concept of religion with a relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, in some ways, I find it is critically essential that we do so. Now this is a theological concept here and I won't spend more time than this on this point, but, that is a basic explanation of what I am attempting to do with The Virtual Pew. A reminder to those having questions here as to what is stated on the front page of The Virtual Pew which also includes our Mission Statement:
"Welcome to theVirtualPew.com. For one reason or another, many of us find ourselves without a home church or place of worship. Some feel disillusioned with overly "religious" experiences, while others simply may not have felt accepted. We're not alone, and together, we can follow Christ and find fulfilling fellowship on the Web."
"Our mission is to help make fully committed disciples of Christ out of all people, regardless of background or circumstance by building a community of faith on the Web."
As a part of that mission, as a part of our intent, is to do everything possible to make the non religious, the non believer welcome. I will not compromise my beliefs in the person of Jesus Christ. It saddens me when I read of the mockery towards Christians, the Church, and other Christian groups, but I have chosen as a direction of this ministry to be different. I want the gang member, drug addict, prostitute, alcoholic, and every other person who either rejects Christianity, has issues with their own wrongs, to know, at least at this one place, they can experience love, and see people who follow Jesus that believes in sharing the love of Jesus with them by really loving them. That is not to say we reject other ministries that focus more on punishment, hell, sin and the like, but just as the Bible illustrates different methods of reaching and teaching people, I know the road this ministry has chosen to take, one of love, where we hope to be more illustrative of Christ. Showing love to humanity, and speaking out against systems, including religious, that would do an injustice to those they come into contact with. I firmly believe, it is not my job to make others feel guilty of the wrongs they have done. That is between them and God.
Now the truth of it, the mission and route I have taken has caused controversy and difficulty at times. I am okay with that, but for those we seek to reach out to, realize there is a cost a cost where many within the religious community don't accept what we do, appreciate it, or support it. I am aware of that, it is one of the reasons I firmly believe The Virtual Pew is broke now, in other words have no money. It is why I have to find odd jobs here or there, to keep this thing afloat. The sad thing is, I know of the impact of what this ministry has had. It is dramatic, no doubt about it. Many thousands of people have responded in a very favorable way to the ministries offered by The Virtual Pew. Daily interactions with people seeking help, from emails, phone calls, face to face visits and on and on. People who have been clear about the impact of this ministry on their lives, clear about the fact they had turned from God, and now have hope that they can have a relationship with Christ. The Bible says we will know who is, and is not believers or followers of Jesus by their fruit, or by the evidence of them touching and helping others. I will gladly say about this ministry, anytime anyone wants to do any fruit inspections, let me know, I will be glad to show you. Despite this evidence though, despite the success, there are still few that support what we do financially. Even sadder, is the number of religioius groups who does not try to understand. I am honored that many have considered the work I have done in Cultural Evangelism to be on the forefront of what has been done around the world. I was among the first to use movies to find spiritual messages, and focus on cultural evangelism. Yet, this new approach, of using the internet and trying to not be religious, while catching some notice, just has not been widely accepted as of yet by many within the church. At this point I am reminded of the words in the Bible, my rewards are not of this earth, they are waiting for me in Heaven.
It is not with selfish intent I do the things I do, let me be clear. I do them out of a love for the person of Jesus Christ and the love he showed me. I know what my life was like before I was a Christian, I know what it is like now. I will not trade it, and I love others enough to show them of the love and rescue that Jesus provided me. I hope people know, in that regard, when I say I love the opportunity to help and share with others, it is not just words, but a reality. It is difficult sometimes, for example, those phone calls cost, I am at the point that a pay by the minute service is not worth it, we are easily using $100 a month on those phone calls now, just related to The Virtual Pew. There are other charges, it takes time to do the articles, spend face to face time, provide services to people needing help, on and on, but I do it, and thankfully have a family that sacrifices financially and from a time perspective, because we realize the need to share Jesus with people who otherwise wouldn't hear that message.
Now to the jest of what started all of this, for the religious folks out there, as was the intent of my last posting which caused some controversy, we have all done so much wrong, that God can't accept us without Jesus advocating for us. We need to remember that when we start being so judgmental of people we say we want to reach or find ways to condemn for some reason. I am reminded here of a story told by Chuck Girrard formerly with the band years ago Love Song. Churck told this story on a video series talking about the early days of Contemporary Christian Music. Chuck at the time was with the band Love Song and they had all come out of the hippie movement, the same movement that I personally come out of, at least the tail end of it. Chuck was telling the story about one time playing in a church and this little old lady comes up and tells him, "Young man, it is so good to see what God has done with the inside of you. I can't wait to see what he is going to do once he changes the outside of you."
Some will see the above comment as a compliment, I and others, see it is a complaint and slap in the face. Here is the point; many recognize that God always changes the inside, he changes the attitude, the heart, the person. The other thing we realize is that the outside is a cultural component that God may or may not change. Sometimes God might even prefer that the outside stay the same. Christians understand this concept so well when it comes to sending people to do foreign missions. Unfortunately we don't realize or practice the same concepts where we live among our own people. As a result, we see Christianity flourishing around the world, and in America, at a decline, we don't know how to reach our own people. On a global perspective, that approach, has begin to spread and thus a need for a ministry like The Virtual Pew that has the potential to bring people together.
In closing today:
To the follower of Jesus, realize the wrongs we have done, we cannot afford to see ourselves in any way as better than anyone else. The best thing we can do is love them in the same way that God loved us.
To the non follower of Jesus, realize this, Christ loves you just as you are, there are others among us who do as well. Don't worry about the outside, consider Jesus for the changes he can bring to the inside.
Now to do something I haven't closed with before, the words from Paul in the Bible where he was writing to a young preacher friend named Timothy, and then the words form an old hymn that used to be sung in churches. Its words are still good reminders to all of us.
1 Timothy 1: 15 – 17: (15) "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all! (16) But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life. (17) I pray that honor and glory will always be given to the only God, who lives forever and is the invisible and eternal King! Amen.
Chief of Sinners
Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed His blood for me;
Died that I might live on high,
Died that I might never die;
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His, and He is mine.
O the height of Jesus' love!
Higher than the heav'n above,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lasting as eternity;
Love that found me-wondrous thought!
Found me when I sought Him not!
Chief of sinners though I be,
Christ is all in all to me;
All my wants to Him are known,
All my sorrows are His own;
Safe with Him from earthly strife,
He sustains the hidden life.
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 numerous postings, and you will have to go into the archives to see the 100 plus postings over the last months.
Now I also want to remind you that you can visit http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ and on the front page scroll down to the left hand side of the page where you sill see our store. Your purchases through our Amazon store provides needed funds to The Virtual Pew. If you do not see something on the page to buy, you can click on the search engine for the store, (do not put anything in the search box at this time) and you will then be taken to Amazon where you can search for anything you desire. Hopefully you will consider a gift to The Virtual Pew and/or at the very least shop our store. The items on the store page are highly recommended.
Contact and Giving InformationOh Yea, here is that contact information again.
The Virtual Pew
P.O. Box 17731
Wichita, KS 67217
Or you van give on line via Pay Pal at: http://www.furches.org/donations/index.html
To become a part of The Virtual Pew, visit, http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ To learn more about me visit http://www.furches.org/ I am also active on MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/mikefurches I have another blog at http://blog.myspace.com/mikefurches To visit the Hollywood Jesus group at MySpace with membership by numerous Hollywood Jesus reviewers visit: http://groups.myspace.com/hollywoodjesus For a more in depth weekly study and conversation you an visit: http://virtualpewsermon.blogspot.com/ where you can access deeper teaching and ultimately videos for viewing and teaching. You can also subscribe to the newsletter at http://www.thevirtualpew.com/ or see the newsletter on line at http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can also sign up for the free newsletter from The Virtual Pew by visiting the main page for The Virtual Pew, or you can see the newsletters online by visiting this web site: http://thevirtualpewnews.blogspot.com/ You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com For those interested in knowing more about my own story, contact me for a free e-copy of my book The Keystone Kid in pre-edit form.