Last night I was playing at a church coffee house. During rehearsal, we joked about the rates for ministry service. “I’ll pay you double” is an old ministry joke. Of course, the base for ministry service is $0. The reward for service is priceless and most volunteers are not motivated by making money through service.
Sadly, this is not true for all types of ministry activities however.
Consider Joyce Meyer.
Joyce Meyer Ministries teaches Bible to a virtual congregation. She is a traveling road show with a multimedia connection to followers. Meyer, 61, offers a gospel of prosperity: God rewards tithing with his blessing. But her own conspicuously prosperous lifestyle includes a $2 million home and a $10 million jet.
Here is a segment from Wall Watchers:
Based on 2002 audited financial statement figures, JMM’s revenue was about $80 million and assets of about $72 million. JMM’s revenues seem to be witnessing a healthy increase and are now reported to be in the neighborhood of about $8 million dollars per month, and approaching $100 million annually.
Some potential troubling aspects about the financial situation include salary and perks, including housing and transportation (multiple vehicles, watercraft and a jet). JMM has generally kept these matters closed, except to that of their substantially family-run board, which are on the payroll and may be receiving some of the perks. Many donors want to know if salary and perks are reasonable when they give and especially if they are encouraged to give sacrificially. JMM is officially organized as a church for Internal Revenue Service purposes; however, it is likely that not too many average church members would view Joyce Meyer Ministries as a traditional congregational church.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch labels the housing situation as “The Meyer Family Compound.” The JMM organization purchased the five homes for Joyce Meyer and her family as the “parsonage.” However, this “parsonage” is worth about $4 million, and has a collective square footage of about 23,358 feet, according to the newspaper. In addition, the organization apparently continues to pay for all expenses, including landscaping, lawn care, property taxes and rehab work. If this situation is legal, it is at the very least giving a black eye to every congregational church in America, because this situation seems excessive and perhaps even abusive.
Others have seen other areas as troubling and they also have problems viewing this organization as a traditional congregational church. The Jefferson County Assessor has raised the issue and his view is that the 52-acre JMM $20 million headquarters is a business. He has said it consists of a 158,139-square-foot office building, a 35,020-square-foot distribution center and a 5,000-square-foot automotive maintenance center. The assessor seems to think that the purposes being held are not purely charitable, but are being held for private or corporate profit. The assessors’ – “commercial supervisor strolled inside the buildings and concluded, “the entire operation has the look and feel of a business – the business of selling religion and, specifically, Joyce Meyer religion.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/15/2003, “Jefferson County, Meyer joust over tax exemption”).
Ranging from incredulous to indignant, Meyer responds that ministry expenses are not cheap, further explaining that her husband “just likes cars,” and that she cannot accept that God would expect His people to endure squalor while the ungodly enjoy wealth. Indeed, in response to question by a Post-Dispatch reporter as to whether or not her pay and perks, which are to be “reasonable” by IRS standards, were excessive, she said, “Ministers either have a parsonage that their ministry pays for – like the Pope lives in the Vatican, which is very nice – or they can take a housing allowance and own their own house.”
I’ll pay you double… indeed.
Our family moved to a new cellphone plan and I dropped by the Telus dealer here in town to get a new phone. We have a couple of pretty new Samsungs and I was hoping to get a Bluetooth handset. I picked up the Motorola V710 as that was the only Bluetooth phone that Telus carries.
I have to say that I still am absolutely amazed at the capabilities of the current state technology. This is a device that offers:
- High-resolution 1.2-megapixel camera with auto timer
- Connectivity via Bluetooth and CE bus
- Auto focus with white balance for sunny, cloudy, indoor or night photos
- Camera light and 16MB RAM
- Video clip capture and playback
- Polyphonic ringtones, screensavers and wallpapers
- Integrated speakerphone
- 500 multi-fielded phonebook entries
- Integrated MP3 player, MP3/MIDI ringers
- Large 2.2″ active color display
I picked up a Bluetooth wireless headset to go with the phone. This small device looks like it comes out of a science fiction movie. Lightweight, it barely covers the ear. One button press initiates the voice recognition on the phone through the Bluetooth wireless connection. You can dial numbers through voice recognition either by name in the phone directory or by number. In essence, you can operate the phone completely hands free. The phone can be within 30 feet of the wireless headset.
I have been exchanging emails over the past year with someone who has a passion for recording and guitar (clearly a person of exceptional refinement).
He ordered a custom Larry Carlton Signature ES-335 which arrived at Long and McQuade this week. He was told 4-5 months, but it arrived in just over 8 weeks. The guitar is no. 41 of the pilot run of 50, hand made in the custom shop.
I am going to meet with him for lunch over the next few weeks. I will try to convince him that he should store the instrument in my secured recording studio. Too risky for him to keep a guitar like that at his home!
Do we get a prize for making it past January 24th?
Jan. 24 is the worst day of the year, with bad weather, debt, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation combining to depress people. This is the contention of Cliff Arnalls, a part-time university tutor in Wales. The Cardiff university instructor has come up with a formula to measure the winter-time blues, the BBC reported.
According to Dr. Arnalls’ equation, 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA, misery peaks next Monday, Jan. 24, a month after Christmas.
JANUARY BLUES DAY FORMULA
1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA. Where: W: Weather D: Debt d: Money due in January pay T: Time since Christmas Q: Time since failed quit attempt M: General motivational levels NA: The need to take action
Arnalls calculated the effects of cold (wet in the case of Britain) and dark January weather after the cosiness of Christmas coupled with extra spending in the sales.
Any energy from the holidays had worn off by the third week of January, he said. By Monday, most people will have fallen off the wagon or abandoned the nicotine patches as they fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.
That compounded a sense of failure and knocked confidence needed to get through January.
The fact that the most depressing day fell on a Monday was not planned but a coincidence, Arnalls said.
It finally happened. Somebody decided to make a digital guitar. Gibson has been working on a digital guitar for a number of years, perhaps as long as ten or eleven years. And yesterday, at the NAMM show in Anaheim, Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz opened a guitar case revealing the future of Gibson instruments.
The instrument looks like a standard issue Les Paul. The promotional photos show a light blue instrument. Not my favourite colour. The only indication that the instrument is digital is found in the I/O cluster at the bottom of the guitar. Lo and behold, an Ethernet port. Perhaps we can surf the net and play guitar at the same time?
The Gibson Digital Guitar System features a HEX pickup, which senses up-and-down motion (like an acoustic guitar pickup) and side-to-side motion (like an electric guitar pickup) for each string. The system also features a MaGIC-enabled digital transport, carrying multiple channels in both directions over a standard Ethernet cable to an 8-out breakout box. The breakout box allows for discrete processing of each individual string.
Will the market take to a digital guitar system? I remember when the first MIDI guitars came to market. A few players experimented with the technology but generally the MIDI guitar was never a strong draw.
The concept of digitizing signals at the pickup and pushing them out for processing in the digital domain seems interesting. However, most guitar players I know are moving in the opposite direction: vintage guitars, vintage effects, and great sounding tube amplifiers.
Some of you have said that I know a lot of famous people and it is true. I have been involved in a fair number of media events with some very well known personalities. The time I remember most fondly though is when I met with George at a press conference a couple of years back. Being a bit of a ham, and a patriotic Canadian, I thought it best to have a picture that made a bit of a statement.
Skip Prokop dropped by the studio yesterday to talk about a recording project for his son. My own son and a friend had wandered in to the control room to say hello but it was clear to me that they had little context for Skip’s tremendous achievements in Canadian music. Aside from receiving four Juno awards, Skip also composed and arranged songs that went Gold and Platinum.
I had first met Skip at Master’s Workshop in the early 80’s. We both wound up in London, Ontario for a spell but I have not touched base with him in almost 25 years. I had done some work with one of the former members of Lighthouse last year and, through some other folks, we made contact.
A story has been circulating on an alleged takeover attempt by Microsoft. The story, which originated at this Spanish gaming site, claims that Steve Ballmer, President of Microsoft, was attempting an acquisition of Nintendo. The story claims that 77-year old former Nintendo boss Hiroshi Yamauchi rebuffed Ballmer’s bid for the company using harsh language. The story also claims that Wired Magazine will publish the interview in its February edition.
Both Nintendo and Wired have said that no such interview with Nintendo’s former CEO took place and that no article will be appearing in next month’s issue of the magazine.
I had lunch with Steve Ballmer about eight years back. We were both involved in a media event and we had a chance to talk one on one about Microsoft and the technology industry in general. A very interesting man and he conducted himself with great integrity. I suspect that Hiroshi Yamauchi would act with the same level of maturity and integrity.