Why Stephanos Ministries is Not a 501-C-3

Why Stephanos Ministries is Not a 501-C-3 Tax Exempt Corporation Legalities and Spiritual Convictions

In this blog I explain (for those interested) why as of July 2015, Stephanos Ministries ceased to be a 501-C-3 corporation with IRS pre-approval of donations. For decades we were a 501-C-3, so what follows is surely not a judgment or condemnation on anyone who currently maintains that status. For years I believed being a 501-C-3 was a benign and mutually beneficial exercise of Christian liberty. I do not judge those who maintain that conviction today.  However, in the light of recent political and legal trends in the world, I thought an explanation for our conviction and action in terminating our status might be helpful. Most believers I have met are very naïve and ill-informed on the “legal” aspects of operating a “church” or “ministry.” This is my attempt to inform and educate.

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Noah: The Movie and the Christian Right – My Contribution to the Noise

There’s lots of “hubbNoahs_Ark_2ub” in the culture on the Noah movie. Here’s my contribution to the noise.

I think evangelical Christians that get all flustered on the Noah movie,  just need climb off the wall, take a deep long breath, take their blood pressure medication, spend some time in a nice relaxing sauna, and go home and pet their dogs. There are far more important things in this life to give our attention to than a product of Hollywood.

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Walking Where Jesus Walked . . . For Real – by Stephen W. Hill

One of my continual disaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAppointments as I meet so many professing “believers,” is their complete oblivion to New Covenant life,  living, and reality. Christians by the score persistently seek various external rituals, experiences, and stimuli to take their faith to some supposed “higher level” or deeper spirituality. Apparently, the Indwelling Holy Spirit, being united with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sharing His glory (John 17:21-23) and being seated with Him in the heavenlies, and giving our lives for our neighbors and the world, etc. are not enough for Western Christians. No wonder popular culture western evangelicalism is insipid, spiritually impotent, and irrelevant.

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Oprah, Snowflakes, and Despair by David French

Oprah, Snowflakes, and Despair

By  David French, National Review
June 3, 2013 5:38 PM

This morning I was forwarded two thought-provoking articles that may have more of a connection than you’d think. The first was Charles C. W. Cooke’s outstanding take-down of Oprah’s Harvard commencement address. The second was USA Today’s report on a spike in lawyer suicides in my home state of Kentucky, a report that contained this poignant reflection:

“They learn that justice is not always done. Innocent people are abused and some go to prison. People guilty of terrible wrongs go free,” Cunningham wrote. “They worry that all the lost hours and missed holidays with family and friends . . . do not matter. . . . They become like a weak-kneed boxer in the 15th round. They keep flailing away. But they lose purpose. They lose hope.”

So much pain in life lies in the gap between dream and reality, between expectations and actual life – especially when generations of Americans have now been raised in a pop culture that celebrates the dream, of romantic love, fulfilling careers, and financial security. If we just read the right book, gain an insight from the right television host, or master our own negativity, we unique snowflakes will break through to the life that we’re entitled to. We often begin with the Oprah idealism and end with the reality of a fallen world.

I remember the silly existential angst I felt in the first several years of my legal career when — despite a great job and even better family – I simply couldn’t shake the sense that I was a disappointment, that my work wasn’t important enough, and that my high-achieving friends were racing ahead of me. I drifted from legal job to legal job in a desperate quest for the perfect situation – the fulfilling, prosperous work that gave me exactly the right amount of time for family all while changing the world.

Law schools tell aspiring lawyers that they are warriors for justice, that they can enjoy — nay, have a right to! — the proper work/life balance, and preps us for considerable material success. And — for a time — I foolishly fell for it. The real-world result of this pablum is a population of professionals who are the least-happy prosperous people in America (lawyers at least do the material-success part pretty well). Yet this gap between expectations and reality is hardly unique to the legal profession.

The Christian world has become pretty darn good at selling a religious version of the “if you dream it you can do it” message of not settling for less than awesome. In this new world, if you’re not starting nonprofits, building wells in Africa, and engineering social justice in a blighted community then you’re not “radical.” (To borrow the name of a popular book in Evangelical circles.)

Ecclesiastes is an under-read book — the author, likely Solomon, had all his heart desired yet declared it “meaningless . . . a chasing after the wind.”

We don’t tell kids that the wind can’t be caught. We tell them that they are the masters of the wind. And then one day they wake up, they barely know their kids, work is stressful, the bills have piled up, and they realize — with shocking suddenness — that they’ve likely already peaked. They won’t do better in life, and in their quest to fulfill their dreams they’ve often ignored the voice that calls them back to modesty, to focus on doing one’s duty — to God, to family, to country. The quest is not to “have it all” but instead to have what God provides to do the work He calls us to do.

There was a reason why the Apostle Paul declared, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” That completed work on the Cross is what gives us meaning, and it is the act that ultimatey wipes out – decisively and eternally – our record of dismal failures, our sickness, our sadness, and our defeated expectations. It is also an act that renders insignificant even our great successes — it is the ultimate source of both hope and perspective, that we can never fall too far for the Cross to reach, and we can never succeed enough to impress the One who was present at Creation.

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Homospirituality

MP900227797The issue of homosexuality is a hot topic these days and stirs a wide spectrum of passion. There is no shortage of indignant outrage on the topic from within organized, conservative, evangelical, Christian, religion. I wrote this blog over two years ago, but thought in the light of current events, a revised reissue would be timely.

The essence of homosexuality is the desire for love, relationship, and sexual intimacy with someone sexually identical to one’s self, without the hard work of learning to love someone very different than one’s self, in very profound ways, 🙂 and without the pain, discomfort, and  inconvenience of the logical fruit of heterosexual intimacy: children.

Jesus made it clear that before we attempt to extract a splinter from someone else’s eye, we need to extract the log in our own. Western Evangelicalism has a very large log: homospirituality.

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How “Good” Do We Have it? Very Good.

Front view portrait of four business executives jumping with arms raisedThe quality of life we enjoy in the West today is due in large part to the advancements of medicine and science. It’s not difficult to find a place of deep thankfulness when meditating on the reality of my birth in the 20th century rather than the 10th.  Five minutes of rational reflection on the facts of history should have the same affect on any of us. Of course, the deceit of pride is we begin to believe we’re entitled to certain things just because we’re alive. We know that the roadway to sin is paved with the cobblestones of thanklessness.[i]

Until the most recent times, the grueling struggle for mere existence was the normal lot of life for everyone but the rich or the aristocracy.  The average human life span in ancient Greece was 20 years.  It was 21 at the time of Christ. It grew to 30 years in medieval Europe, 47 years in the United States in 1900, and to over 75 years today.[ii] This means that hitting a ripe old age of 70 has only been a possibility for approximately the last .25% -.50% of recorded human history! [iii]  99.75%-99.50% of those who have gone before us[iv] on the planet would not share our definition of normal. Not only would our life span have staggered them, but the overall average health that we enjoy today would also have been inconceivable. Our predecessors were (along with millions of our contemporaries) locked in a bitter daily struggle for life or death that we just can’t comprehend.

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Be Kind:Live Longer

A university of Michigan at Ann Arbor study finds that folks who help out, by doing a senior’s cleaning, are up to sixty  percent less apt to die over five years than the uncharitable. Maybe it is better to give than receive.

Maybe God was on to something . . . honor your parents that your life may be long . . .

_________________

Self Magazine: Score with Chores, Self, March 2003, p. 132.

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

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Heaven is Real: An Easter Message

A book written about an eleven-year old boy, Heaven is Real,  who allegedly went to heaven during surgery when he was four, is sitting at the #1 spot on the New York Times best seller list.

It’s a sad commentary when the subjective speculations of a child, under the influence of anesthesia, conditioned by four or more years of growing up in a Christian home and church, the son of a pastor, are given more credence than eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ: the apostles and their testimony recorded in the Scriptures. Apparently Jesus’ and Paul’s word isn’t good enough for us anymore. Apparently, we need mystical experiences of a four year-old to convince us that Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles are reliable.

The modern fixation on things mystical is, in part, a reaction to centuries of dead, cerebral religion that may be orthodox in creed but has the spiritual vitality of a limp noodle. Therefore, at one level, I understand the drive in the human soul to touch and experience something of eternity that is real.

However, there will never be a sign or wonder big enough to convince people who refuse to be convinced. Should someone even be raised from the dead, that would not be enough. Oh, wait a minute. That’s already been tried.

Jesus spent thirty years making furniture in a carpenter shop. No mystical experiences. No trips to heaven. No visions. Just living and growing in relationship and favor with God and man. I suggest that as Christians, we actually practice our own rhetoric. The esoteric speculations of an unconscious eleven-year old regarding the hereafter, have very little bearing on how I am living today in right relationship with God and humanity, the sum of which, Jesus said, is the fulfilling of all God’s requirements.

Heaven is real, not because an unconscious boy says so. It’s real because Jesus is alive. The story of “Jesus is alive” has already been written in the all-time best seller. However, that simple story doesn’t sell religious pop-culture books. “Four-year old boy goes to heaven” does, and it is a tragic commentary on the infantile spirituality of those who call themselves . . .  “Christian.”

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

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Physical Healing is Not Kingdom Optional

The following excerpt is from our book: Healing: Hope or Hype?

Power has been defined differently throughout our nation’s history and culture. A generation ago it was defined by the equation: military + industry = power = control.  That’s no longer true in modern Western societies. Today’s power equation reads: information + capital = power = control. There is an emerging power structure that has the potential to control our very existence by creating physical dependency upon it. The formula is: medicine + money = power = control or more specifically: pharmaceuticals + healthcare + government + money = power = control.

Because of the collusive elements of the above equations, and the skyrocketing cost of medical care and insurance premiums, there are literally millions of people who cannot afford to be sick. The choice for these is either complete financial ruin or dependency on the state. The day is coming for many believers, when we are either going to have to experientially know Him as Healer, sell our soul to the gods of this age, or die. The whole matter of the gifts of the Spirit will move from the fringes of Sunday morning enthusiasms into life and death realities. An ascending church of dominion simply must arise. Not a church strong in principles of organizational management and hierarchy trying to outdo mammon in mammon’s game, but rather a church which possesses a place in Christ that has temporal authority over disease. It simply must happen. Just as necessity was the motivator for the believers in Jerusalem who were not obeying what Christ said to do and were scattered,[i] so the church in our age is going to find itself similarly motivated from necessity rather than enthusiasm in the days ahead.

[i] In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told the apostles to go and make disciples. They stayed and ran a Bible study and prayer meeting—sounds familiar (Acts 6:4). So after 7-8 years of disobedience, God forced them to obedience by a persecution (Acts 8:1), and the apostles still didn’t get it as they stayed. Twenty-one years later (Acts 15) the Jerusalem contingent is still arguing about cultural conformity issues (circumcision, etc) while Paul had been doing the work Jesus had commissioned them to do.

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Does “Religion” Cause Wars and Death?

In interactions with unbelievers, it’s common for the phrase “religion has caused so many wars and deaths” to come up in the conversation. This is aimed primarily at Christianity because of popular misconceptions concerning the Crusades. The problem is, it is a factually baseless and persistent myth.

The 20th century (1900-2000) was by far the bloodiest century in all of recorded history.  It has been called the “Genocidal Century.” Historians refer to this aspect of this period as a “Hemoclysm” (“blood flow”).  By taking a look at the lives taken during the 20th century we can get a more accurate picture of the true motivations for the killing of other human beings. The 20th century has seen 180,000,000 people murdered. Here is a summary of  just the top five “killers” of the 20th century which account for 150,000,00 of those deaths.

1) World War I, 15 million (Geopolitical)
2) Russian Civil War, 9 million (Lenin: 4 million) (political)
3) Stalin’s purges, 25 million (consolidation of political power)
4) World War II, 50 million (Geopolitical)
5) Mao Zedong (Cultural Revolution in China), 50 million.

These are ONLY the top five 20th century totals, caused by atheists and for geopolitical secular reasons. Lets add in some others:

Mongol Conquests: 35-40,000,000 deaths
African Slave trade: 20,000,000 deaths
Taiping Rebellion: 20,000,000 deaths

Now, let’s take a look at deaths caused by religion.  The first thing you will notice is how far back you have to go to hit some significant numbers:

All Crusades (both sides, Christian and Muslim) 900,000-1,000,000 deaths
The Inquisition: 250-350,000 deaths
Salem Witch Trials: 19 deaths
30 Years War – 7,000,000 (arguably geopolitical reasons, with religious undertones)

Deaths due to “religion:” approx. 1.3 million ( 8.3 million if you count the 30 Years War)

While any death of a human being in the name of Christ or religion is a moral travesty, the popular notion that “more people have been killed in the name of religion . . .”  is  is pure nonsense. Deaths due to “religious reasons” are less than 1% (5.5% if including the 30 Years War) of the top five secular or atheists murderers of the 20th century. The 20th century secularists and atheists make everyone else look like amateurs in the war and death department.

So the next time you are at a party or in a dialog with an unbeliever and this tired cliché is brought out, respond with some facts. A lie, if repeated often enough, becomes truth in the minds of hearers.

I am indebted to William Suttles, Ph.D., Raleigh, NC,  for source data.

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission to copy, forward, or distribute this article is granted as long as this copyright byline is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.

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