Thursday, July 30, 2009

What If You Can't Feed A Hundred?

Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." For Sean and Kevin Dolan, a father and son in Houston, Texas, that meant getting to know Tim Edwards and creating the provocative website "Pimp This Bum" to do so.

Tim was an office manager with a home, a car, and a future but a long battle with alcohol and depression had dropped him under the I-10 overpass at Highway 6 in Houston, panhandling for money in a perpetual, semi-drunken haze for five years. But with the help of donations and the love and support of PTB fans, he has taken his first gigantic steps toward a new life.

Following a lifechanging stay at the Sunray Treatment center in Washington State, he's sober, optimistic and thoroughly enjoying life. He's been reconnected with his long-lost family, made countless new friends, and has given a face to homelessness around the world. Click here for another article about Tim, the pic above for more about PTB, and the triangular play button below to watch a moving 10 minute segment about his journey.

What Can't You Do?

Aimee Mullins was born without fibular bones, and had both of her legs amputated below the knee when she was an infant. She learned to walk on prosthetics, then to run -- competing at the national and international level as a champion sprinter, and setting world records at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta. At Georgetown, where she double-majored in history and diplomacy, she became the first double amputee to compete in NCAA Division 1 track and field.

She's a passionate advocate for a new kind of thinking about prosthetics, and recently mentioned to an interviewer that she's been looking closely at MIT's in-development powered robotic ankle, "which I fully plan on having." In her 20 minute talk, she compared prosthetic legs to eyeglasses saying in the same way that we wear designer eyeglasses she has designer legs!!! Press the triangular play button below to enjoy!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who Loves Mike's Soft Lemonade?

videoWe met this family in the park last week. Who gave us permission to shoot and use this 17 second vid clip of their reaction to our church Lemonade Stand. The weather forecast said thunderstorms and hail! But God shined down upon us as teams of volunteers [BIG thanks and WTG!!!] gave away 8 gallons of lemonade in 16 oz cups [who knows how many lemons that takes since we put half a lemon in every cup?].

When the incredulous walkers, joggers, and bikers asked why we were giving away for free fresh squeezed lemonade that sells for $5 to $7/cup at county fairs, we were happy to tell them its because "God loves you like crazy!!!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why Should Churches Innovate?

According to the Adventist Church’s Center for Creative Ministry [we actually have one!!!], the median age of an Adventist American is 52 while the median age of the average American is 35. If for no other reason, we should host annual Innovation Conferences [IC’s] just to talk about these constantly changing demographics and their implications. But another reason people in the church need to be innovating inside and outside it is because according to The Barna Group, 71% of those average Americans won’t be attending any church on any day this weekend. The good news I suppose if there is some is that 78% of those unchurched Americans are willing to have a spiritual conversation. Just not in church. Now or maybe ever.

Over the past 4 Innovation Conferences, I’ve met and stayed in contact with numerous Adventist pastors and speakers and teachers who have either attended or made presentations at an IC [such as Ryan Bell, Dave Jamieson, James Tucker, Samir Selmanovic, and Julius Nam] that are currently reaching that 71%. They have greatly encouraged me and the leaders in my church to keep trying to reach this continuously growing mission field of people where I live.

The fifth annual International Conference on Innovation happens this October in Columbus, Ohio. Last year they had about 180 registered participants, and they anticipate having more this year. Will YOU bring a team from your church? I hope so! Click here or the banner ad to the lower right before August 6 to secure the early bird pricing or click the pic above to read the very thought provoking Spectrum Magazine article about how how the conference began and what keeps it going.

Step Into Africa?

Everything you knew about the AIDS crisis in a continent with 12 million children orphans is about to change. Step into Africa with me without leaving the state of Ohio! On Monday August 10, 2009 the church bus will be driving to Kettering, Ohio to participate in an unforgettable journey of tragedy and triumph by touring the World Vision Experience hosted by the Kettering Adventist Church.

I hope a full bus [YOU are invited!!!] takes advantage of this very special field trip opportunity. Please contact me if you're interested in going. You do not have to be a member of TF to participate. Admission is free. But you may want to bring some cash for lunch. Will be leaving @ 8am and returning to church by 5pm. Click pic for more info or the triangular play button below to watch a 2 minute preview.

Calling All Kidz?

Dash plaques to first 50 entrants. All makes and models welcome. Over 20 categories of trophies. Kidz bring your fave Matchbox or Hot Wheels car [limit one per person] to submit for the Kidz Car Show award. Food court. Live music. Park like setting. Help spread the word!!! We especially need YOU to give employers, vendors, or anyone you do business with a Sponsorship Form!!! Click pic to download and print a sponsorship form or stop by the church for hard copies. Go to www.kidzcrazycarshow.org for more info.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Girl Power?

Wanna watch live updates from Puyo, Ecudador where Pastor Rachel and some TF youth are on their Ultimate Workout mission trip? The crew will highlight events and happenings from this annual mission experience for teens ages 14 to 18. The broadcast will air online at 9 pm EST from July 16 to 25 with the exception of July 19 and 23. The goal for the live broadcast is to not only highlight what the kids are doing each day, but to portray what Ultimate Workout means, what it’s about, and how it can change lives for teenagers. Click pic to tune in starting July 16 @ 9pm EST!!! Go girls!!!

Is Picking Jesus Crazy?

To some people, it is. That's what this picture and cartoon reminded me of this week. Enjoy!!! [And pick Jesus anyway!!!]

Do Fries Come With That Shake?

Trish Ramos likes to shake things up at the drive thru windows by paying for her meal and for the meal of the customer in the car behind her. Doing so reminds the employee and customer that God loves them both like crazy!!! Click the triangular play button below to see what I mean. And then comment below on whether YOU would ever try this!!! Or if you were the recipient of such kindness in progress, if YOU would read the little card it came with!!! Click pic for more.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Will You Be There?

Multitudes, from Hollywood to the music industry, lined up to perform musical and spoken tributes to Michael Jackson this week including Justin Timberlake, Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey who performed the Jackson Five hit "I'll Be There." And while "Man In The Mirror", "We Are The World", and "Will You Be There" are a few of My Michael Faves [click playlist on right for more], the overwhelming response to Michael's death reminded me of a text.

"Though he [Jesus] was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross" [Philippians 2:5-8 NLT]. And one day because He did, "At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" [verse 11]. The death of the so-called "King of Pop" reminds us this week that one day the multitudes on earth will bow before Jesus the King of Kings [Revelation 19:16]. So why not start now? It's as simple as ABC.
  1. Ask - Ask Jesus into your life [He loves you like crazy and would rather die than spend eternity without you!!!]
  2. Believe - Believe the truth about yourself and Jesus [There's nothing you can do to make Him love you more / There's nothing you can do, to make Him love you less!!!]
  3. Come - Come and keep coming [John 6:37 says "All who come will never be driven away."]
Would you think about these things for at least the seven minutes it takes to watch one of the more thought provoking music vids Michael Jackson produced? Feel free to comment below or email me [mike4tune@gmail.com] if you have want more info about how to become or stay Christian!!!

Gimmick Or Staple?

According to Donald Scott's essay "Evangelicalism, Revivalism, and the Second Great Awakening", Charles Finney [1792 – 1875] was a Presbyterian minister known for his "new measures" [called by his supporters] and "gimmicks" [by his critics] to "provoke" conversions and to "shock, scare, badger and persuade the hearers into a change of will." His techniques included placing ads in the newspaper for "protracted" revival meetings that were held each night for two or three weeks, singing hymns [something John Bunyan rejected as secular poetry that split his church just 100 years before Finney was born], having women pray in public meetings of mixed gender [gasp!!!], the development of the "anxious seat" [now known as the "altar call" — a place where those considering becoming Christians could come forward to receive prayer], and public censure of individuals by name in sermons and prayers [maybe I should try that just joking!!!]. Most of which are staples of traditional evangelists today.

But just a couple years ago, a group of Toledo First folks participated with YWAM's [Youth With A Mission] Impact World Tour [IWT]. Their martial arts experts, body builders, skate board, BMX bikers, and various dance teams captivated audiences while volunteers [like me] prayed with the people at the end of their presentations and wrote down their contact info to be passed along to the closest participating local church [21st century altar call!!!] Recently, I got an update on the IWT from my friend James and here are the staggering numbers of its impact in Ohio so far:

Total Attendance - 96,474
Total Decisions - 14,819
Total First Decisions - 5,822
15% Total Response
82% Under 18 years old

In one Ohio town 6 months later, over 75% of these young people remain active in the churches to which they were referred. PTL!!! All of which reminds me that today's "gimmicks" could be tomorrow's staples. Is there anything evangelistic any church is doing today yielding a 15% response rate and 75% retention? Maybe brick breaking body builders and extreme home makeovers and car show winners will be among them. Click either pic for more info on Impact World Tour.

Does The World Still Need You?

Dikembe Mutombo, the 7'2" Houston Rockets eight time All-Star center and father of six children [four adopted] originally intended to become a doctor. But Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson recruited him to play basketball for the Hoyas instead—even though Mutombo at the time spoke almost no English [he now speaks English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and 5 African languages]!!!

Throughout a career that ended in the 2nd game of the 2nd round of the 2009 NBA Playoffs due to a knee injury, he has used his influence as an athlete for good. Before he retired, he even built in his native country of Congo [formerly Zaire] it's first new fully equipped medical facility in 30 years. The hospital cost $14.5 million and Mutombo still travels there to teach HIV/AIDS awareness to young people.

But the other reason I really like him is because one summer while he was interning at the World Bank in DC, he took time from his lunch hour one day to snap this photo with me as a teenager [we rolled jeans back in the 80's LOL!!!] and later autographed it [his hands are behind his back because college athletes aren't paid and he couldn't afford to purchase a shirt with sleeves that would reach his wrists!!!]

Get well soon Dikembe!!! The world still needs you!!! And the world still needs YOU too. Isaiah 58:12 [NLT] says, "Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes." Please pray for Pastor Rachel and a few members of Youth Operate as they leave for Ecuador soon!!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Did The Lord Fast?

For months we've been looking and praying for a place to do ministry outside our church walls. And we thought we finally found one with a great owner. Who was as excited about us moving in as we were. It has a new roof. Furnace. And a big bay window on a corner. Even more amazing is that God provided outside of our church budget full payment of the entire first year's rent!!!

But for a variety of reasons, we are unable to proceed with this outreach. So we are confused. Why has God seemingly led us to this storefront and provided the resources needed to convert it into a worship and mission outpost but is not arranging for our immediate occupancy? Moving into the storefront and renovating it was supposed to be our Mission Trip to Toledo this summer. But it looks like God is saying "no", "wait", "look somewhere else" or maybe simply "I want more of you to see the significance of praying and fasting."

Which shouldn't surprise us because Jesus talked about this [cf. Mark 9:29]. And is actually fasting right now [cf. Matthew 26:29 ]. So this month, we're asking you to pick any 5 days and start fasting. Not just to develop a hunger for serving the less fortunate [cf. Isaiah 58:6-7], but to grow closer to God. Choose one of the options below that Pastor Rachel introduced in church last week [click any pic to read her message in its entirety]. If you have any blood sugar or health issues, please proceed with caution only after consulting your doctor first!!!

1. Non-food fast [abstaining from TV, music, video / computer games / online networking, time with friends, or an hour less sleep]
2. Partial-food fast [no sodas or desserts, only fruits and vegetables, raw foods, no animal products, only two meals per day instead of three]
3. Daylight liquid fast [no solid foods between sunrise and sundown, but during night hours food is okay]
4. Total liquid fast [five 24-hr days of only liquids with no solid food]

If after 5 days of fasting this month you hear God saying "no", "wait", or "look elsewhere" please email me: mike4tune@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for helping seek God's will for us!!!

Conversation Or Pitch?

While I don't recommend this film for children because of its language, adults inside or outside the church [perhaps those in your own family?] could have a fantastic conversation this July 4 full of fireworks all your own if you were to rent the 1999 DVD "The Big Kahuna" and discuss what you see.

Why? Because this one set, three actor, 90 minute film has some very thought provoking exchanges between Phil (Danny DeVito) the pragmatic but jaded salesman who is great at putting things in perspective for everyone but himself, Larry (Kevin Spacey) the seemingly superficial cynic, and Bob (Peter Facinelli ) the naïve Christian zealot whose antidote for everyone and every situation is a strong dose of Jesus. For more info click the pic or to see what I mean, click the triangular play button below to preview a 5 minute scene near the end of the movie.

Happy Interdependence Day?

Shane Claiborne is a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He has some friends [Brent Aldrich, Chris Smith, and Ragan Sutterfield] who have put together a list of 40 ideas for Christians to celebrate the Fourth of July as a day of interdependence on God and one another. Why? Because "We want to remember that our deepest allegiance and identity run deeper than nation." To read more of Shane's Interdependence Day article, click any pic. To read more about his friends and their list click here.
1. Shop only at locally-owned merchants or restaurants.
2. Write a note of appreciation to a mother; thank her for raising a child.
3. Look through your clothes. Learn about one of the countries where they were manufactured and commit to doing one thing to improve the lives of the people who live and work there.
4. Take a digital recorder out into your neighborhood and do “field recordings” of your neighbors showing off their talents (singing, playing instruments, telling jokes/stories). Make a cd of these recordings and distribute it freely in your neighborhood.
5. Gather some neighbors, walk around your neighborhood and do asset-mapping, noting key places in the local economy: local businesses, restaurants, parks, community gardens. Make a map that highlights these assets and distribute it freely in your neighborhood.
6. Learn where your utilities come from—the source of your electricity, gas, and water.
7. Dig up a bucket of soil from your garden or yard, examine it, noticing all of the elements of organic matter, sand, clay, and the organisms that make your daily meals a possibility.
8. Host or plan a neighborhood produce exchange, where gardeners can barter the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors with one another.
9. Spend the 4th of July baking cookies or bread. Give your baked goods to the person who delivers your mail or picks up your trash the next time you see them.
10. Host a rain-barrel making party and teach your neighbors how to make and use rain-barrels to recycle rain water.
11. Gather your neighbors and find a building or retaining wall on which to design and paint a mural in your neighborhood. If a suitable wall can’t be found, paint the mural on plywood panels in a park or community garden.
12. Spend the day hiking in the woods. Think about how God cares for the sparrows and lilies of the field.
13. Gather your neighbors and do a spontaneous parade that shows off people’s talents – music, acrobatics, costumes, etc.
14. Host a neighborhood yard sale, except require that participants barter things/services for things they want. Donate any unwanted items at the end of the day to a locally-owned thrift store.
15. Climb a tree and sit there for a long period of time, observing and documenting – in photographs, drawings, paintings, writings, etc. – the forms of life that you see from that vantage point.
16. Sit down and handwrite a letter to an old friend or family member. Tell them one of your favorite memories of them.
17. Commit to not using any gasoline on the fourth of July and encourage your neighbors to do likewise.
18. Organize a bicycle tour through your neighborhood.
19. Gather your neighbors and make and post educational signs relevant to your neighborhood: See http://learningtoloveyoumore.com/reports/62/62.php
20. Gather your neighbors and plant marginal spaces in your neighborhood with native flowers or foods.
21. Hold a knowledge exchange where people gather and each get ten minutes to teach the group about something they’re passionate about.
22. Call a meeting in your neighborhood to plan a large-scale fall tree planting throughout your neighborhood.
23. Pass out copies of a book on local culture or local economy in your neighborhood (e.g., Bill McKibben’s DEEP ECONOMY) and gather on the 4th of July to discuss the book in regard to your neighborhood.
24. Announce a contest for making creative bird-feeders (with bonus points for making them out of recycled materials!) and bring all the entries together on the 4th of July, let neighbors judge them and then hang them throughout the neighborhood. Find a way to support the upkeep of the feeders.
25. Throw a neighborhood history party. Record neighbors telling their most memorable stories about the neighborhood and assemble these stories into a DVD, CD or book. Make sure elderly neighbors get involved.
26. Plan a neighborhood cleanup day – picking up and recycling litter, sweeping sidewalks, etc.
27. Find neighbors knowledgeable about local plants and trees and their uses and get them to lead a walking tour that showcases this knowledge.
28. Plan a workday in your community garden, or if you don’t have a community garden gather neighbors to brainstorm how you might start one.
29. Gather neighbors for a conversation about permaculture. Learn how certain plants when planted together benefit one another.
30. Host a neighborhood potluck, and encourage neighbors to use local foods in the dishes they contribute.
31. Look for everything you have two of and give one away.
32. Host a neighborhood conversation about the practicalities and details of using alternative forms of energy (solar, wind, etc.).
33. If there are abandoned/foreclosed homes in your neighborhood, gather neighbors to clean up and/or beautify these properties.
34. Attempt to repair something broken. Appreciate the people who repair things for you one a regular basis.
35. Track down old teachers and mentors. Let them know the influence they have played in your life.
36. Visit an elderly neighbor or family member. Have them tell you the story of their life.
37. Find a local place where you can build a public sculpture (church, community garden, etc). Get your neighbors to donate one piece of junk that they do not want, and work together to build a meaningful sculpture out of these materials – dissembling them as necessary.
38. Pray the Lord’s Prayer and commit to one concrete action to live out each part.
39. Babysit someone else’s children.
40. Go to a place where people are gathered and offer free hugs.

Which one will you try?