Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I think the leadership of America need a fresh touch from God

Since May 2 hundreds of men, women and children have been experiencing an unusual outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a church in Kansas City, Mo.

[07.22.08] Crowds of people run to the altar, a preteen ushers in the presence of God, signs and wonders abound—all marks, observers say, of a revival that has shaken a Kansas City, Mo., church to its core.

Since May 2 hundreds have gathered at World Revival Center in the heartland city to experience the miraculous power of God.

“I can hardly stand up half the time,” said Casey Lohman, 47, a member of the church for 13 years. “It is that incredible. You’re stumbling for words all of the time.”

Senior pastor Steve Gray said he knew something was different in his congregation after multitudes of people began testifying of miraculous healings.

"The doctors could not get it fixed,” said Jim Conner, referring to a “nagging” pain in his lower back. “No one even laid hands on me. The power of God overwhelmed me and knocked me back. The pain was instantly gone."

During the four services held every week, many have given testimonies of being healed of blindness, deafness, lameness, high blood pressure and a myriad of other ailments. But what astonishes Gray most are the transformed lives observed after the altar call has ended.

“They’re becoming different people,” Gray told Charisma. “We see the fruit of it. The commitment and desire to love Jesus and to serve Jesus more … than they ever had in their entire life. They have obviously been revived.”

Children and teenagers are also testifying of healings and to the presence of God.
“A lot of the children are receiving as powerful a touch as anyone,” Gray said. “If [the Holy Spirit] doesn’t hit the children then, to me, it’s not a revival.”

The power of God apparently fell so strongly on the congregation one night that Ivan Ramirez,a 9-year-old boy who was praying for congregants at the time, recalled feeling warm, “like a thousand blankets all around me … it felt so good."

The services are being streamed on the church’s Web site (www.worldrevivalchurch.com/media/) and many young people have given testimonies.

Gray says the presence of God also manifests powerfully in meetings when he opens up his Bible to preach. “It’s so intense that when I preach or when I say God’s moving people just don’t saunter down [to the altar]. They run down,” he said. “I always laugh when people say ‘The Spirit was moving so strongly I couldn’t even preach.’ I always say: ‘That’s probably the time you should have preached.’”

The pastor of the 800-member church says that revivals in the past have had a bad reputation of being “emotional and scripturally weak,” which is why he makes sure he preaches Scripture and sound doctrine.

“We have these tremendous powerful moves of God,” he said. “Then we sit down and we listen to the Word and we let the Word of God do its work in us.”

Gray’s congregation is familiar with revival. The church was the home of the 1996 Smithton Outpouring, which lasted more than five years and drew 225,000 people from every U.S. state and 60 countries worldwide.

Gray doesn’t want to keep silent about the move of God transforming his congregation.

“We want to bring this to every local congregation that we can,” he said. “[We want to] get a hold of the pastors and the leadership of the churches. I think the leadership of America need a fresh touch from God.” —Felicia Mann

This revival is meant to move

Todd Bentley, leader of the Florida Healing Revival, announced that Aug. 23 would be his last day in Lakeland, Fla. GOD TV has also said their live broadcast coverage of the Lakeland meetings would end.

[07.28.08] Todd Bentley, leader of the Florida Healing Revival, announced last week that Aug. 23 would be his last day in Lakeland, Fla., telling his followers that God had instructed him and his staff to “move, walk the land, [take] the Ark of God’s glory” to the nations.

”Since the beginning, we’ve sensed that there’s nothing ordinary about this outpouring,” he said in a statement. “It’s something new and fresh, with much movement to it . … We’re sensing that this revival is meant to move, it’s our time now to walk it throughout the land, to move the Ark from the cradle and into the harvest fields.”

Another leader from the outpouring confirmed Bentley’s upcoming departure. “We are excited and prepared,” said Stephen Strader, senior pastor of Ignited Church, the 700-seat converted storefront on the north side of Lakeland where the revival broke out nearly four months ago.
Strader indicated he was in the process of forming a “Lakeland Alliance” to help the revival continue after Bentley leaves. He reported four other local churches are already signed up and that he expected more.

The latest news came after 111 days of meetings that have had to relocate numerous times to accommodate crowds in the thousands that were in search of a physical or spiritual touch from God. Documented proof has been difficult to come by, but Bentley and others say thousands have claimed to be healed as a result of the meetings.

Bentley described his departure as a needed transition for propelling the revival into the future. “This in no way means the end of revival, it’s just the beginning,” he wrote. “The Lord has shown me many more potential wells to uncap in the days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years to come.”

GOD TV, which has broadcast the Lakeland meetings live in 214 nations almost every night since April 11, also announced that its live broadcast coverage would end Aug. 23. Graeme Spencer, the network’s head of production, said it would continue streaming the Lakeland meetings live on its Web site and would also attempt to broadcast as many of Bentley’s itinerant meetings as possible.

Bentley said God has told him to visit a total of 38 cities, most of them in the U.S. He has already held “impartation” services in places such as Dallas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Ky., and Concord, N.C. He is scheduled to travel to the African nations of Uganda and Sudan in late August and early September. ——Paul Steven Ghiringhelli

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not having a place to live in retirement, he will preach until he dies,

Baptist pastors in West face decline and in South, poverty

Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2008, 8:25 (BST)

The biggest problem a pastor faces depends on where the minister is located. That was the message from speakers at the Baptist World Alliance annual conference in Prague last week.

For pastors in North America, the greatest challenge is the cultural shift away from Christianity, said David Laubach, the North American presenter at the BWA workgroup about church health and effectiveness.

Five decades ago, 80 per cent of Americans attended church regularly, Laubach said, according to the Associated Baptist Press. Now, the number has fallen between 20 and 42 per cent depending on self-reported attendance or actual Sunday seat counts.

Moreover, three-quarters of US churches report a membership plateau or decline. Out of the churches that are growing, nearly a quarter are doing so by taking members from declining churches. Only one percent of US churches are growing by attracting new members from the unchurched population.

"Shrinking resources, absence of biological growth, aging mainline denominational populations, mobility, consumerist/entertainment culture, a sometimes-hostile environment, increased pastoral expectations and role overload, dramatically shifting ecclesiology, church change and conflict" are some of the stress North American pastors face, Laubach said.

He noted that the stress faced by “emotionally drained pastors” can cause them to “succumb to moral failure and personal and family breakdown”.

But churches in east Europe and South America, in contrast, are reporting growth.

Bulgarian pastors and those in many former communist nations in east Europe are seeing rapid growth, but face the problem of not being able to keep up with the demand for trained leaders, said speaker Teodor Oprenov.

Another issue for Eastern Europe Baptists is that their growth spurt has stirred animosity among those Christian traditions with deep roots in the country, such as the Orthodox Church.

The government in Bulgaria, for example, is said to tacitly or openly discriminate against Baptist pastors in favour of Orthodox clergies.

Baptist pastors also face discrimination in Chile, but their greatest difficulty is poverty, Rachael Contraras, the Latin American representative, said. Many Chilean Baptist pastors lack education and are poor, making it difficult for them to reach out to well-educated young adults. Their lack of education and inexperience also can reflect poorly on the denomination when they are invited by the government to participate in social work, she said.

"Their income is very low compared to the people in his church and in society in general. He will live in a society in which everyone has a car, but he won't. Others will have houses, but he will not. He will live in a parsonage. Not having a place to live in retirement, he will preach until he dies," Contraras noted.

Many Baptist pastors in Chile have to work long hours at a secular job to support their families. The stress from managing two jobs has created health problems for these pastors such as ulcers, burnout and depression, she said.

Other topics discussed at the BWA meeting included an organisational restructuring proposal, human trafficking, international relief and an open letter from Muslim leaders.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

Commentary: If only such largesse flowed to all of us

Chris Pummer

By Chris Pummer, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last update: 8:19 p.m. EST Nov. 6, 2003

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) -- Almost no one in America would admit to being overpaid, but many of us take home bloated paychecks far beyond what we deserve.

"Fair compensation" is a relative term, yet HR consultants and executive headhunters agree some jobs command excessive pay that can't be explained by labor supply-and-demand imbalances.

And while it's easy to argue chief executives, lawyers and movie stars are overpaid, reality is not that cut and dried.

Corporate attorneys earn $500-plus an hour and plaintiffs lawyers pocket a third of big personal-injury settlements, but local prosecutors and public defenders get paid little in comparison. Specialty surgeons may earn $1 million or more, while some family-practice doctors are hard-pressed to pay off medical-school loans.

Hollywood stars making $20 million a movie or $10 million per TV-season qualify for many people's overpaid list. But for every one of those actors and actresses, there are a thousand waiting tables and taking bit movie parts or regional theater roles awaiting a big break that never comes. Join the "Shades of Green" discussion.

"A lot of people are overpaid because there are certain things consumers just don't want screwed up," said Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation for Salary.com. "You wouldn't want to board a plane flown by a second-rate pilot or hire a cheap wedding photographer to record an event you hope happens once in your lifetime.

"With pro athletes, one owner is willing to pay big money for a star player and then all the other players want to keep up with the Joneses," Coleman said. "The art with CEO pay is making sure your CEO is above the median -- and you see where that goes."

What follows is a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S., in reverse order, drafted with input from compensation experts:

10) Wedding photographers

Photographers earn a national average of $1,900 for a wedding, though many charge $2,500 to $5,000 for a one-day shoot, client meeting and processing time that runs up to 20 hours or more, and the cost of materials.

The overpaid ones are the many who admit they only do weddings for the income, while quietly complaining about the hassle of dealing with hysterical brides and drunken reception guests. They mope through the job with the attitude: "I'm just doing this for the money until Time or National Geographic calls."

Much of their work is mediocre as a result. How often have you really been wowed flipping the pages of a wedding album handed you by recent newlyweds? Photographers who long for the day they can say "I don't do weddings" should leave the work to the dedicated ones who do.

9) Major airline pilots

While American and United pilots recently took pay cuts, senior captains earn as much as $250,000 a year at Delta, and their counterparts at other major airlines still earn about $150,000 to $215,000 - several times pilot pay at regional carriers - for a job that technology has made almost fully automated.

By comparison, senior pilots make up to 40 percent less at low-fare carriers like Jet Blue and Southwest, though some enjoy favorable perks like stock options. That helps explain why their employers are profitable while several of the majors are still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The pilot's unions are the most powerful in the industry. They demand premium pay as if still in the glory days of long-gone Pan Am and TWA, rather than the cutthroat, deregulated market of under-$200 coast-to-coast roundtrips. In what amounts to a per-passenger commission, the larger the plane, the more they earn - even though it takes little more skill to pilot a jumbo jet. It's as much the airplane mechanics who hold our fate in their hands.

8) West Coast longshoremen

In early 2002, West Coast ports shut down as the longshoremen's union fought to preserve generous health-care benefits that would make most Americans drool. The union didn't demand much in wage hikes for good reason: Its members already were making a boatload of money.
Next year, West Coast dockworkers will earn an average of $112,000 for handling cargo, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, their employer. Office clerks who log shipping records into computers will earn $136,000. And unionized foremen who oversee the rank-and-file will pull down an average $177,000.

Unlike their East Coast union brethren who compete with non-union ports in the South and Gulf of Mexico, the West Coast stevedores have an ironfisted lock on Pacific ports. Given their rare monopoly, they can disrupt U.S. commerce -- as they did during the FDR years -- and command exorbitant wages, even though their work is more automated and less hazardous than in the days of "On the Waterfront."

7) Skycaps at major airports

Many of the uniformed baggage handlers who check in luggage at curbside at the busiest metro airports pull in $70,000 to $100,000 a year -- most of it in cash.

On top of their salaries, peak earners can take in $300 or more a day in tips. Sound implausible? That amounts to a $2 tip from 18 travelers an hour on average. Many tip more than that.
While most skycaps are cordial, a good many treat customers with blank indifference, knowing harried travelers don't want to brave counter check-ins, especially in the post 9/11 age.

6) Real estate agents selling high-end homes

Anyone who puts in a little effort can pass the test to get a real estate agent's license, which makes the vast sums that luxury-home agents earn stupefying.

While most agents hustle tail to earn $60,000 a year, those in affluent areas can pull down $200,000-plus for half the effort, courtesy of the fatter commissions on pricier listings.
Luxury home agents live off the economy's fat, yet many put on airs as if they're members of the class whose homes they're selling, and eye underdressed open-house visitors as if they're casing the joint.

5) Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on the lecture circuit

Whether it's for knighted ex-Mayor Rudy Guiliani or Tom "In Search of Excellence" Peters, corporate trade groups pay astronomical sums to celebrity-types and political has-beens to address their convention audiences.

Former President Reagan raised the bar back in 1989 when he took $2 million from Japanese business groups for making two speeches. Bill Clinton earned $9.5 million on 60 speeches last year, though most of those earnings went to charity and to fund his presidential library.
The national convention circuit's shame is that it blows trade-group members' money on orators whose speeches often have been warmed over a dozen times.

4) Orthodontists

For a 35-hour workweek, orthodontists earn a median $350,000 a year, according to the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. General dentists, meanwhile, earn about half as much working 39 hours a week on average, in a much dirtier job.

The difference in their training isn't like that of a heart surgeon vs. a family-practice doctor. It's a mere two years, and a vastly rewarding investment if you're among the chosen: U.S. dental schools have long been criticized for keeping orthodontists in artificially low supply to keep their income up.

This isn't brain surgery: Orthodontists simply manipulate teeth in a growing child's mouth -- and often leave adjustment work to assistants whose handiwork they merely sign off on. What makes their windfall egregious is that they stick parents with most of the inflated bill, since orthodontia insurance benefits cover nowhere near as large a percentage as for general dentistry.

3) CEOs of poorly performing companies

Most U.S. chief executives are vastly overpaid, but if their company is rewarding shareholders and employees, producing quality products of good value and being a responsible corporate citizen, it's hard to take issue with their compensation.

CEOs at chronically unprofitable companies and those forever lagging industry peers stand as the most grossly overpaid. Most know they should resign -- in shareholders' and employees' interest -- but they survive because corporate boards that oversee them remain stacked with friends and family members.

The ultimate excess comes after they're finally forced out, usually by insiders tired of seeing their own stock holdings plummet. These long-time losers draw multimillion-dollar severance packages as a reward for their failed stewardship.

2) Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts

Pro athletes at the top of their game deserve what they earn for being the best in their business. It's those who sign whopping, long-term contracts after a few strong years, and then find their talents vanish, who reap unconscionable sums of money.

NBA player Shawn Kemp, for instance, earned $10 million in a year he averaged a pathetic 6.1 points and 3.8 rebounds a game. Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton earned $9.5 million -- in the second year of an eight-year, $121 million contract -- while compiling a 7-15 won-loss record for the Colorado Rockies with a pitiful earned-run average of 6.15.

Thank the players' unions for refusing to negotiate contracts based on performance -- and driving up the cost of tickets to levels unaffordable for a family of four, especially for football and basketball. They point to owners as the culprits, yet golf star Tiger Woods and tennis champ Serena Williams earn their keep based on their performance in each tournament.

1) Mutual-fund managers

Everyone on Wall Street makes far too much for the backbreaking work of moving money around, but mutual fund managers are emerging as among the most reprehensible.

This isn't kicking 'em when they're down, given the growing fund-industry scandal. They've been long overpaid. Stock-fund managers can easily earn $500,000 to $1 million a year including bonuses -- even though only 3 in 10 beat the market in the last 10 years.

Now we discover an untold number enriched themselves and favored clients with illegally timed trades of fund shares. That's a worse betrayal of trust than the corporate scandals of recent years, since they're supposed to be on the little person's side.

Put aside what fund managers earn and consider their bosses. Putnam's ex-CEO Lawrence J. Lasser's income rivals the bloated pay package that sparked New York Stock Exchange President Dick Grasso's ouster. Lasser's take: An estimated total of $163 million over the last five years.

If only we were all so fortunate. End of Story

Chris Pummer is personal finance editor for CBS.MarketWatch.com in San Francisco.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On behalf of the people who never show up in your church

Evangelist Brian Mclaren challenges Lambeth on emerging culture

by Maria Mackay
Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008, 7:26 (BST)

One of the emerging church’s foremost figures, US evangelist Brian Mclaren, challenged the Lambeth Conference earlier this week to speak the Gospel into the world’s ever-changing cultures.

Mclaren said he had come to the Lambeth Conference to speak to the more than 600 bishops and their spouses “on behalf of the people who never show up in your church, … who are never part of your community, the multitude of people who have been created in the image of God, but who have never known the redeeming of the Spirit of God through the Good News of Jesus Christ”.

He argued that religion had “orphaned” emerging culture such as materialism and technological development, and failed to answer questions raised by the “hurricane of change” in the modern world.

Mclaren went on to present his view of evangelism in what he defined as the pre-modern, modern and emerging worlds. He said that evangelism in parts of the world that are experiencing a shift from pre-modern to modern may seem “effortless”, but churches in the modern world are “static and declining” and “evangelism is hard to come by”.

“You might say that evangelism is almost non-existent because the Christian faith is, to be very frank, almost non-existent,” he told the audience, gathered at the University of Kent, in Canterbury.

Mclaren, who was previously voted one of Time magazine’s top 25 most influential evangelicals, also told the bishops that they needed to ditch “internal institutional maintenance” and focus instead on the “outward mission” of making disciples among all people. That, he said, was “our only hope of saving the church from division, diversion, implosion, irrelevance and triviality”.

Mclaren remained positive about the “wonderful” and “creative” ways that Anglicans are making disciples around the world, including the Church of England’s Fresh Expressions initiative to develop new ways of being church.

He also offered a fresh perspective on the challenges confronting the Anglican Communion right now, saying they could become a “great asset” to the Church if it realised “we’re in a different place, different contexts and we have different challenges”.

“The fact that you are a global communion means that you are forced to realise that different cultures are dealing with different struggles,” he said. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.”

He encouraged the bishops to use Lambeth as an opportunity to enter the emerging, post-modern world as disciples of Christ and change history.

"What new, unimagined capacity could be stirred up in the church if we re-discovered and re-prioritised our outward mission to be the hands and feet and eyes and ears, the presence of Jesus Christ to a world in desperate need? What would happen if we turned that outward mission into the good news of hope?"
Mclaren asked the bishops.

Going further, he challenged them to consider what kind of Gospel newcomers to the church were likely to hear.

“Will it be the gospel of evacuation (to heaven after death) or will it be Jesus’ Gospel, the Gospel of the kingdom of God, the message that brings reconciliation, hope, transformation and engagement?”

Mclaren exhorted bishops to take a “missiological” and culturally sensitive view of homosexuality, an issue that has divided the Church particularly after the US Episcopal Church’s consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

“To deal with this issue of human sexuality in some places in the world is very different than in other places in the world,” he said. “If you are deeply, deeply committed to making followers of Jesus Christ, you have to be conscious of those settings and the real challenge is the person in [one] setting to be conscious of the difficulties of the person in [the other] setting.”

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the road?

There are many answers to the same question.
Finally, some authoritative answers to this age-old question!

The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a CHANGE! The chicken
wanted CHANGE!

My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to
engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side
of the road.

When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the
road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure -- right from
Day One! -- that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves
to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.......

The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must
first deal with the problem on 'THIS' side of the road before it goes after
the problem on the 'OTHER SIDE' of the road. What we need to do is help him
realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his 'CURRENT' problems
before adding 'NEW' problems.

Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he
wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from
his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this
chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his
life like the rest of the chickens.

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know
if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either
against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of
the chicken crossing the road...

We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been
allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It
was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's
intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his
eyes and the way he walks.

To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a
standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped
to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the
chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not
been told.

In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us
the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the
chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it
experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life
long dream of crossing the road.

It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

I have just released eChicken2007, which will not only cross roads, but will
lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book.
Internet Explorer is an integral part of the Chicken. This new platform is
much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^(C%.......... reboot.

Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the

I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of

I invented the chicken!

Did I miss one?

Where's my gun?

Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens!

And now, the local version (for Singapore & Malaysia):

LEE KUAN YEW (Former Prime Minister Singapore):
We have installed crossing lights at all traffic junctions. All chickens
should be able to cross safely to the other side.

LEE HSIEN LOONG (Current Prime Minister Singapore):
Gantry points have been set up. All chickens wanting to cross the road are
advised to top up their cash cards first.

ABDULLAH BADAWI (Current Prime Minister Malaysia):
We have to be fair to all chickens. Some want to cross over the road, some
do not. ........ Zzzzzz .......zzzzzz ....... Now what were we talking
about? Ah yes, chickens. We will form a Royal Commission to decide whether
it is right for them to cross the road.

MAHATHIR (Former Prime Minister Malaysia):
Now even the non-bumi chickens want to cross the road? How can they
disrespect and disregard the bumi chickens? We must be allowed to cross
over first. It is our right!

ANWAR (Opposition party leader Malaysia):
We have enough chickens waiting to cross over in September.

SAMY VELU (Former Minister of Works Malaysia):
After we have erected the toll booths, all chickens are free to cross the