Matthew 7:15 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Some Observations...

Just a few observations that perhaps some of you want to comment on:

- how does a church like Shiloh or Trinity Baptist end up hiring a pastor who abuses people? How do their deeds go undetected? What empowers a man to think he can do these things and get away with it? Does elevating their pastor to "rock star", untouchable status have anything to do with it? Has FBC Jax been guilty of the same, but we were just blessed to have godly men at the helm who didn't abuse the power and trust given to them? Its very apparent we have a pastor who desires to have much accountability within in his pastor's office by having his wife working with him - that is one thing that our church was very happy about. But when I see how we heap praise and money and power on one man that we hardly know just because of his position of "pastor", it makes me greatly concerned that our church could also be susceptible to pastoral abuse.

- Isn't it interesting that now several times we have been told during announcements that we will be voting on the church trustees that have been nominated by Mac Brunson? Mac has told us this at least once and maybe twice, and Ed Dickinson mentioned it yesterday, that on January 6th we'll be voting for these men, and that there is biographical information on these men available for everyone to pick up at the usher stations! Well, imagine that!!! Actually ANNOUNCING, and DISTRIBUTING NECESSARY INFORMATION about what we will be voting on! While I'm glad they are distributing information, this shows how deceitful Mac Brunson was about the bylaw changes that were voted on November 28th. Just as easily as Mac is making trustee nominee biographical information available to the congregation, he could have made the bylaw changes available also, BUT CHOSE NOT TO DO SO (and you have to admit that providing biographical info on these men is much less important than providing information to members on the bylaw changes that affect their membership and governance of the church). Sorry Jim Smyrl, I haven't witnessed to anyone this week, but I'm still going to "complain" that our pastor and president of the trustees deceived their congregation by not making bylaw changes very available to the membership before asking for a vote. Asking the faithful Wednesday night attenders to vote on bylaw changes without at least, AT LEAST summarizing the changes was a shameful act.

- anyone notice that Jim Smyrl's preaching style/demeanor has changed since working under Mac Brunson? Most of us have heard Smyrl before he worked under Brunson, and now we've heard him quite a few times since he was hired and working under Brunson. I myself notice a distinct change but wondered if anyone else has.

- I'm sure that the trustee vote on January 6th will be an "all or nothing", "up or down" vote on all the men that our pastor has nominated. If this is so, it is a sham vote. If they're going to ask us to vote, give us a ballot and allow us to vote yes or no on each of these men. I haven't seen the list of men, but here is some criteria that I would apply to the vote if I were to vote:

a. Before I will vote "yes" on ANY of these men that Mac Brunson is nominating, I want Mac Brunson to stand in the pulpit and explain the bylaw changes that were ramrodded through, and I want him to explain why he felt the need to ask for a vote without making the bylaw changes readily available to the membership, why he felt the need to never at least explain the changes, and then apologize for this stupid act. Until he does THAT, I won't vote in favor of any of his proposals brought before the church - trustees, new school, none of it.

b. Any men that were involved in any way with the decision to bring Mac Brunson to Jacksonville by being on the search committee, I would vote "NO" on. We don't need men in positions of trustee who have their reputations in the church and community tied to Mac's success. We need men who can objectively hold Mac accountable to do right by his congregation.

c. Any men that have served with Mac as a trustee during his first two years or in a position of leadership like chair or vice chair of deacons would get a "NO" vote. These men, in my opinion, failed to hold Mac accountable during the first two years and I could not vote for any of them. Where were these men when the $300,000 gift was given? Didn't they see the problem that this would present when the congregation became aware of it? We need men who will be willing to say "NO" to Mac Brunson, willing to ask tough questions of Mac Brunson. Where were the current trustees when someone needed to tell Mac Brunson "No, we will NOT ask our church to vote on significant bylaw changes without first making the changes readily available and summarizing the changes before the vote. If you do, I will resign." Where were the trustees when it was found out that Mac was going to use our church facilities to host "A Night to Stand With Israel" and he wasn't explaining it to his congregation?

d. Is he nominating any new men to positions of trustee leadership that are long-time faithful members who have stellar reputations and could be trusted, but not part of the current "power structure" at church? Men who the congregation knows have the judgement and discernment needed to be a trustee, but who don't have the clout because they don't hang with the current big shots? If you've read the list, are there any men that YOU would nominate that are not on the list? Feel free to post your ideas here on who should NOT be on the list and who SHOULD be...I'm particularly interested in hearing some nominations of men who serve faithfully but aren't "big shots" who are probably overlooked by the pastor. If this was a ballot vote, I would write in a few names of men who I know have impeccable reputations, but get overlooked because they don't hang with the current lay power structure of the church. If we've learned anything about our church in the last 2 years, its that we need some fresh new lay leadership - not "new" in the sense of "uknown" - but "new" in trusted men that we know and love but have never served in those positions.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gilyard's Ugly Past

If you want a look at what the REAL Darrell Gilyard is all about...if you want to know what his past was, read the article located from the Dallas Morning News dated July 14, 1991:

"The Downfall of a Pastor" - Dallas Morning News

After you read this article in its entirety, you'll see how Paige Patterson, the President of the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and a regular preacher at FBC Jacksonville's Pastor's Conference, played a very significant role in Gilyard's years in Texas. One must wonder after reading this why Patterson did not do more to stop this man from pastoring churches when it was abundantly clear he was a serial womanizer and couldn't control his zipper. One also has to wonder: how many women will come forth from Shiloh? Hopefully they will be encouraged to come forth by the leaders of Shiloh and will not be questioned or intimidated like the women were who made allegations about Gilyard in Texas.

After reading this, my respect for Paige Patterson continues to diminish. Earlier this year he asked his student body to pray for poor 'ole Mac Brunson who never got a "honeymoon" from his congregation (which is just not true as I chronicled here.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

One Bright Spot in the Gilyard Story

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UPDATE: For one of the most complete articles thus far on Gilyard's pre-Jacksonville sexual issues, visit this site.
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The Darrell Gilyard story is likely going to get very ugly. There are allegations of sexually explicit text messages sent to at least one teenager. There may be a list of "sexual encounters" between Gilyard and a member of the church. There will be questions asked like "why was the congregation not warned of Gilyard's ugly past?" and "who knew but kept it quiet"?

But in all this ugliness, there is already one bright spot. His name is Pastor George Harvey, Jr.

First however, a recap:

I have already on this blog shown the news articles from July 1991 stating that, according to Paige Patterson, currently the President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Darrell Gilyard admitted to having sexual relations with women who came to him for pastoral counseling at Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas. Click here to read the news articles from 1991 explaining how Gilyard not only was a confessed-adulterer in Texas, but that he repeatedly lied about his upbringing and how he "lived under a bridge" during his teen years.

At the time of the allegations in Texas, Paige Patterson was the president of Criswell College in Dallas, and Patterson was advising Gilyard after the allegations of sexual improprieties at several of Gilyard's churches became public.

Said Patterson at the time: "Darrell needs counseling to try to gain restoration with God and his family. I think it is inappropriate for a person who has had this type of thing happen to him to be in the pastorate." (poor choice of words..."had this type of thing happen to him"...as though poor Darrell was the victim of some women in the church).

The question has to be asked: How in the world did Darrell Gilyard gain a position as pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church after these allegations - after he had, according to Patterson, ADMITTED to having sexual relations with women he was counseling? Perhaps when Patterson comes to Jacksonville in February for the FBC Jacksonville Pastor's Conference the press will talk to Patterson to see what steps he took to warn the Shiloh congregation about Gilyard's adulterous past - and if in Patterson's opinion Gilyard ever got the "counseling" needed. EthicsDaily.com has written an article that chronicles Gilyard's early days and how Vines and Patterson assisted the young Gilyard.

Now for the one bright spot in this so-far sordid tale.

According to local pastor George Harvey, Jr. of the Mt. Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1993 Pastor Harvey DID try to tell Darrell Gilyard he was unfit for the position of pastor. Harvey reports that his attempts to confront Gilyard and warn the church were met with a grievance filed by the several deacons against Harvey.

Here is Pastor Harvey's post on this blog dated 12/25:

"In April, 1993, I prayerfully confronted Gilyard at Shiloh and told him that he was Biblically disqualified from pastoring due to his divorce in Texas and because of all of the improprieties with women out there -- in that short meeting, he literally ran through the auditorium to get away from the rebukes. I followed with a letter outlining the reasons for disqualification. Within a week, two of his Deacons met with me -- Deacon Herman Sykes told me that I was nuts and Deacon Copeland said, "We don't care what he's done, as long as he wins souls". Both Deacons subsequently filed a complaint against me with the State Attorney's office because of my tenacious rebuke of Gilyard's evils. "

Wow - how refreshing it is to actually hear of a pastor who is not afraid to call out a pastor who has done something wrong and may present a danger to God's people! What an absolute contrast Pastor Harvey is to Tom Messer, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church - Messer admitted recently that he knew Bob Gray lied to his congregation in the early 1990's about the molestation charges - HOW MANY VICTIMS COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED FROM THE MONSTER BOB GRAY IF TOM MESSER WOULD HAVE HAD THE BACKBONE THAT PASTOR HARVEY HAD AND CALLED BOB GRAY OUT? We have seen so many stories of late where church leaders are covering for each other's failings while putting their congregations at risk: one need look no further than Tom Messer and Bob Gray, and Steve Gaines and Paul Williams (here and here) at Bellevue Baptist for examples of this.

Pastor Harvey continues:

"The Lord Jesus gave me victory at the SA (state attorney) mediation. The mediator asked the Deacons whether they had reviewed the documentation I had relative to Gilyard's Texas improprieties; they said "no". The mediator then gave both deacons copies and insisted that they take it home for review. Before concluding the meeting, the mediator only asked that I stop preaching about Gilyard's evils on WCGL radio -- the director of that station had censured me earlier for the Gilyard rebukes the same month. "

Pastor Harvey - you DID your responsibility as a pastor to protect the people of God, even at great personal risk and in the face of willful ignorance on the part of those deacons. You can have a clear conscience that you did your best to prevent further harm being done by Gilyard.

Unfortunately there are probably some that can't have that same clear conscience; men who KNEW of Gilyard's past but failed to warn unsuspecting women at Shiloh Baptist. We hope these men too will be held accountable if any of these most recent allegations turn out to be true about Gilyard.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gilyard: Text Messages and "Sexual Encounters"...Here We Go Again?

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NOTE: Anyone doubting the allegations against Gilyard from the early 1990's, scroll down and read the news articles that I quoted in my previous article in this blog. There I have two news articles that describe the allegations at his previous church, one of them in which Paige Patterson says Gilyard admitted to having sexual relations with women in his church that he was counseling.

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Updated News Links on Gilyard

AP News Story

Members of Shiloh are "Shocked"

Watch Video of Gilyard Victim

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The Florida Times Union has written an article (click here to read) covering the latest mess Darrell Gilyard has gotten into at Shiloh Baptist. We hope its not true, but this may very well unfold as another example of church leaders worried more about protecting the reputation of their church and their pastor than they are the welfare of young ladies.

From the Florida Times Union article:

"According to the police report, a mother said she found obscene text messages when she checked her daughter's phone on Oct. 23. The mother, who is not identified in the report, said she later spoke with another woman who said her daughter also had received sexually graphic messages from the same phone number. "

So apparently there's more than one girl that he may have sent sexually explicit text messages.

And:

"She said she spoke with four church deacons about the phone calls and showed them a journal of alleged sexual encounters with Gilyard. She said the deacons told her not to involve the police until they could discuss the allegations with Gilyard, according to her statements in the police report.....When asked why she waited a month to lodge her complaint with police, she said she'd been told the church was going to handle the matter. "

Sadly, it looks like the allegations have gone beyond phone calls, and involve "sexual encounters", although its not clear if its with the same girls he sent the messages to, or just what "sexual encounters" mean.

And of course the crack team of deacons who were told about the allegations as early as October 23rd told her NOT to go to the police. Does that surprise anyone? Let's hope the authorities will find the names of those deacons who gave her that advice, to not report this...if the man is sending sexually explicit messages to a minor that very well is a crime and the deacons should have told her to immediately report it to the police, and the deacons should have immediately taken steps to investigate and taken steps to protect the young women of the church immediately while the investigation took place.

So the questions that need to be answered now by the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church:

1. Why did the deacons tell the woman to not report to the police what appeared to have been a crime, if someone sent sexually explicit messages to these girls from Darrell Gilyard's phone? Who were these deacons? Did they in any way threaten retaliation against the woman if she did go to the police?

2. What steps, if any, did the church leaders take between October 23rd and November 29th to protect young ladies in their congregation after they were made aware of the text messages and "sexual encounters"? Let's hope no "sexual encounters" or any abuse happened in this period when the church decided to take matters into their own hands.

3. The obvious and most painful question: Why would the church hire a man as their pastor after he had admitted to having sexual affairs with women in his previous church, especially considering that these women were (according to Paige Patterson who counseled Gilyard in Texas) women that Gilyard was counseling? Was he up front with those who hired him at Shiloh, or did he deny the allegations when he was hired? What steps were taken to make sure the same problems didn't happen at Shiloh - for instance was he prohibited from counseling women or young ladies alone? Did the men of the church take steps to hold him accountable and prevent a repeat performance of sexual encounters with young women in the church seeking counseling?

My guess is that the church's investigation will reveal someone stole Darrell Gilyard's phone and sent the sexually explicit messages to harm his reputation, and that he is 100% innocent. His church will rally around him, and all will be well, and Darrell will have been the victim of a terrible prank and be given even more power at his church. And the mother who went to the police against the deacon's advice will be brought before a church discipline committee for being divisive.

We shall see.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gilyard's Past: You're Telling Me Nobody Knew????

I find it very strange that people are shocked to hear about these allegations against Darrell Gilyard, pastor of the Shilo Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

I have no idea whether the current allegations of him sending sexually explicit text messages are true or not, but its just absolutely amazing to me that people in Jacksonville are shocked! But given the adultery allegations against him with women in his former Texas church that were well-reported in the 1990's, the new allegations don't surprise this writer one bit!!!

Long-time church members at FBC Jacksonville remember this very gifted preacher preaching here in Jacksonville in the 1980's. He claimed to have been born and raised on the streets in poverty, a homeless young person - FBC Jax members will remember his story of "living under a bridge" as a young person. But this turned out to be a lie, as Barbara Davis of Palatka, Florida testified that she raised Darrell from age 5 to 19 and that his story of living homeless under a bridge were made up. Then in 1991 the adultery allegations arose and he resigned as pastor of the Victory Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas.

Here is a newspaper article from the "Austin American Statesman" dated July 13, 1991:

RICHARDSON - A minister who resigned after admitting several adulterous relationships should stay out of the pulpit until he proves he's ready to practice what he preaches, a Southern Baptist leader said Friday.

Darrell Gilyard's once-rising star within Southern Baptist circles came crashing down this week, leaving yet another evangelist whose message was tainted by adultery.

Gilyard, a frequent guest on Jerry Falwell's weekly evangelical television program, has been described by several prominent ministers as one of the nation's most gifted religious orators.
But the 29-year-old preacher's future darkened when he announced his resignation during a midweek meeting at the Victory Baptist Church, one of the few integrated congregations within the mostly white Southern Baptist Convention.

"I offer you my resignation immediately without option," said Gilyard. "The only reason I stand before you now is because my love for this book supersedes my will."

Gilyard did not return messages left at his home Friday by The Associated Press.

Although Gilyard did not mention his reasons for leaving his church, a longtime supporter and friend, Dr. Paige Patterson, said Friday that Gilyard admitted having several adulterous affairs with women he was counseling.

Falwell said in statement released Friday that he has not spoken with Gilyard since his resignation.

"I am always deeply saddened to hear such allegations against any servant of God whether true or false," Falwell said. "The whole cause of Christ is always injured.

"Rev. Gilyard is the most gifted young preacher I know today and God has greatly used his message throughout this country."

Southern Baptist Convention officials said Gilyard was pressured to resign because of mounting complaints that he had behaved inappropriately toward women in both his own church and at least three other congregations.

Patterson, president of Criswell College and Gilyard's former teacher, said the complaints prompted an investigation.

"He has resigned from Victory Baptist Church, but I have been told by some that he may be having second thoughts about that," Patterson said. "Apparently some members of the church may want him to stay on."

But Patterson said it would be best for Gilyard, who is black, and the church if Gilyard does not return.

"Darrell needs counseling to try to gain restoration with God and his family," Patterson said. "I think it is inappropriate for a person who has had this type of thing happen to him to be in the pastorate.

When allegations of sexual misconduct cropped up against Gilyard four years ago, Patterson said he counseled the young minister, who is married. Patterson said he advised Gilyard to avoid meeting alone with women and to avoid lengthy personal counseling sessions that might breed gossip.


Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle dated July 29, 1991 about the fabrication of his "living on the streets":

A preacher who gained national prominence when the Rev. Jerry Falwell broadcast his "miracle story" of rising from homelessness in his teens actually had a comfortable upbringing, a newspaper said yesterday.

Darrell Gilyard has claimed he slept under a bridge from age 13 on. But the Dallas Morning News quoted a Florida woman who reared him as contradicting that story.

Gilyard, 29, denounced the newspaper article in a sermon yesterday.

Gilyard became one of the nation's most sought-after black Baptist evangelists after frequent appearances on Falwell's nationally televised "Old-Time Gospel Hour" but has fallen from favor recently.

Under pressure from Baptist leaders, he resigned from his Victory Baptist Church here on July 10. There were allegations that he had affairs with female members of the congregation.
He christened Grace Community Church less than two weeks later. Last week, he asked members of his new church to forgive him for the alleged affairs.

Falwell's show in January spotlighted Gilyard's more distant past -- including his claims of teenage homelessness -- in a segment called "The Darrell Gilyard Miracle Story."

But Barbara Davis, 65, of Palatka, Fla., who said she reared Gilyard from age 5 to 19, said he fabricated stories about his childhood.

"It was embarrassing," Davis told the newspaper. "People were calling me from all over and knew how I'd raised him."


Let's see what these new allegations are all about. Either way, its probably time that people in Jacksonville who are following this man know the truth about his past.

Baptist Pastor Stays On Paid Leave...

UPDATE: Click HERE for the TV News Report.

Pastor Darrell L. Gilyard, pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida has been accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to the teenage daughter of one of his church members. The incident is still under investigation.

Story is here.

Darrell L. Gilyard has released a statement that says he is going to take an indefinite, paid, administrative leave from the church while the issue is being investigated. Here is his statement.
His statement, which is actually a letter to the Board of Trustees, is TELLING the board that he will take a PAID leave of absence.

I would like the church leaders to release a statement saying..."AHEM...we'll decide pastor whether you are on paid or unpaid leave....and we've decided its to be UNPAID until we determine what has happened."

But of course the mortgage payment on Darrell Gilyard's home must be huge...since he lives in Queen's Harbour, a very exclusive gated community, and his house is worth almost 1 million dollars.

Long-time members at First Baptist Church will remember Darrel Gilyard as he preached several times in the 1980's at FBC Jax, before he moved to Texas to pastor. He allegedly had illicit relationships with women in his church there in Texas before he came to Jacksonville. Jerry Vines has also preached in his church in the past year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Church Discipline According to Mac Brunson

As readers of this blog know by now, Mac Brunson has successfully modified our church bylaws to form a discipline committee with well-defined responsibilities in the church. The verbal vote was taken on November 28, 2007, and was approved by an overwhelming majority. The bylaw changes included other signficiant changes to our church governance, including changes to expenditure authorizations, how committee appointments are made, and how member disputes are resolved through mediation. Apparently no one in the church is raising a stink about how these changes were ramrodded through...but the Watchdog will not let it go.

All of this was done with not a single word of explanation by the pastor. Not one single word of explanation. Not during the weeks leading up to the vote. Not at the business meeting before the vote. Not in the three weeks since the vote. He never felt the need to tell the congregation what they were voting on. He's never explained why now he feels the need to at this time to create the discipline committee. Not one word about how the committee will operate. Not one word about how the members are selected. And apparently not one single member of the church board of trustees who recommend the changes along with the pastor saw anything wrong with bringing this for a vote before the church with not a word of explanation. Certainly Dave Bristowe, the chairman of the deacons and president of the board of trustees had no problem asking for a vote when he had to know hardly anyone he was standing in front of, asking for a vote, had a clue what they were voting on. Unbelievable. Maybe worse than all of this: apparently very few in the church, except for a scant handful of recalcitrant bloggers, even care that this has happened.

One would think that a caring, humble pastor would explain to their congregation how such a committee would be used by God to lovingly, compassionately restore a wayward member according Matthew 18. A loving pastor would first explain the process of Matthew 18 which starts with a brother first going to the brother, followed by two or three, then as a very last resort bringing the brother before the church. Nothing of the sort from this pastor. In fact, the only mention of Matthew 18 church discipline we've received from Mac Brunson since the November 28th vote was a very careless description of church discipline as being the act of bringing a brother before the church! He doesn't mention that this is a third step in the process.

So here's the sequence of events:

1. 11/28/07: Church bylaws changed adding church discipline committee during business meeting.

2. 12/2/07: (very next sermon after the vote). Mac angrily accuses those who are against change in the church as being "comfortable in their sin and in their compromise".

3. 12/12/07: In a sermon where Mac is preaching against the sin of a "judgemental and critical spirit", Mac gives a very stern, unloving warning, and scripturally careless explanation that church discipline includes bringing a member before the church - CLICK HERE. I use the word "warning" as he had a pregnant pause followed by three quick finger taps on his pulpit with a look of "what do you think about THAT" (those that have sat under Mac Brunson know what I'm talking about). I say "scripturally careless" because he quotes Matthew 18:17 without quoting or explaining Matthew 18:15-16. So the man creates a church discipline committee, and two weeks later instead of EXPLAINING FROM SCRIPTURE what the process is, he instead warns his congregation that "church discipline" means that someone might be brought before the church with their sin - all of this in a sermon addressing those with a critical and judgemental spirit. Wow. Indeed, are we not getting tired of the Mac Brunson Show?

Questions for you out of town pastors who read this blog and are considering coming to the pastor's conference: would you ever dream up such a scheme and pull this stunt at your church? Would you ever ask for a vote on creating a "church discipline committee" in your bylaws without first clearly and lovingly explaining this to the people you are sheparding? Apparently Mac Brunson, who is hosting the 2008 FBC Jax Pastor's Conference with the theme of "Team Building" sees no problem with it. Perhaps in one of his "Premium Sessions" at the conference he'll address this topic: "how to get your bylaws changed to create a church discipline committee and give yourself more power in the church with hardly anyone in the church knowing you've done it!" Definitely it is a new chapter that he can put in his Pastor's Guidebook.

Finally, at the risk of being accused of "living in the past"....or "worshipping previous pastors"...here is an example of how Dr. Adrian Rogers created a church discipline committee. Nothing under the table. No asking for a vote from his church with no explanation of what, why, how. No warnings that people will be brought before the church in his sermons. It was a clearly worded resolution that came before the church for a vote, so that the people - get this - KNEW WHAT THEY WERE VOTING ON.

Bellevue Baptist Resolution Creating "Church Discipline Council" - dated 6/11/97

Where is the leadership of our pastor on this important issue? When will he apologize for the manner in which he ramrodded these bylaw changes through? When will he take the time to lovingly explain the need for the church discipline committee, how it will operate, and how members are selected? When will he properly explain the Matthew 18 church discipline process in a loving way and not in a threatening way as though he is ready to bring some people before the church?

I'm not holding my breath for any of this to happen.

Just expecting more of the same.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Update on Calvin Carr

Calvin Carr has been the pastor at North Central Baptist Church in Gainesville, Florida for about 2 months now. His church does post his sermons on the Internet under "I-Tunes", so visit his church web site here, scroll to the bottom and link to the I-Tune podcasts of his sermons.

From time to time I'll listen to a few of his sermons, and they are outstanding. You can hear so much of Dr. Vines and Dr. Lindsay in his sermon style, and from time to time he drops in interesting stories from his many years at FBC Jax.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Video Clips from "A Time to Stand With Israel"

Clip #1: This clip is of a local actor Andrew Cardy doing a monologue playing Jacob explaining his wrestling with God.

Clip #2: Ginger Soud introduces Rep. Adam Hasner - he gives an update on several Florida-Israel government and business initiatives.

From several camera angles you'll see how woefully small the attendance was. It looks like attendance was in the hundreds. Definitely not an event supported by the FBC Jax congregation in any significant manner.

For newcomers to this blog who don't know what these clips are about:
On November 8, 2007, First Baptist Church Jacksonville hosted an event called "A Time to Stand with Israel". This was billed as a night to honor and show support for the nation of Israel. This writer and other FBC Jax members were quite disappointed that this event was hosted at the church (see previous posts here, here, here and here). While the event in and of itself may be very worthwhile, this blog brought to light several problems with hosting it at FBC Jax. Firstly, it had no evangelistic component, secondly the funds raised were to go to a hospital in Israel at which abortions are performed (to be fair all Israeli hospitals conduct abortions as some abortions are funded by the Israeli government), and thirdly the pastor provided no leadership in explaining to the congregation why this was a worthwhile event for us to sponsor. (other than explaining Jesus was a Jew and we received our Bible from the Jews).

Something never explained to the congregation was that this service was broadcast on http://www.daystar.com/ and apparently DVD's of the entire event be purchased at the daystar website.

If more clips of the event become available on YouTube, I'll post them here at the blog.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What Changes Were Made to the Bylaws?

As posted here about a week and half ago, a business meeting at FBC Jacksonville was held on Wednesday, November 28th during a Wednesday night service. During this business meeting, Mr. David Bristowe, the chair of the deacons and the president of the FBC Jacksonville, Inc. board of trustees, brought forth a motion to approve church bylaw and articles of incorporation changes. The meeting can be listened to here.

During the meeting, absolutely no explanation was given to the members present as to what the bylaw changes were - either specifically or generally...absolutely NO explanation during the meeting before the vote. The bylaw changes were however, put into the church library a few weeks prior, and a notice in the Sunday bulletin ran for several weeks stating that the bylaws would be changed and that copies for review of the changes would be placed in the church library. Posters here reported that the library bylaw copies were numbered to keep track of them, they had to be checked out for viewing by signing one's name on a check out sheet, and the librarian explained that the copies were not to leave the library. Members that I talked to did not bother to go to the library, as they assumed that changes would at the very least be summarized in the business meeting before voting - and some members feared retaliation from the church if they had to put their names on the check out sheet.

If anyone has a copy of the new bylaws, or excerpts from the bylaws describing the discipline committee, I would gladly post them here on the blog. You can email me using the email link in my profile.

Apparently the bylaw changes were not at all minor or administrative in nature. You'll notice in the meeting recording hyperlinked above that Mr. Bristowe made absolutely no mention of the bylaw changes, but yet did describe fully the very "administrative" articles of incorporation changes...giving the attenders the impression that the bylaw changes TOO were administrative in nature.

The decision to not widely disseminate the bylaw changes and not openly discussing or explaining them prior to the vote has been criticized on several baptist discussion forums on the Internet...I have read of no one that would defend the decision to make it harder rather than easier for a member to become aware of the bylaw changes prior to the vote.

One of the changes to the bylaws, as reported by one of the posters here, was the formation of a "discipline committee". Others included granting more power to the pastor in selecting members to committees. You can read more about the bylaw changes here at the previous post on this topic.

Regarding the formation of a discipline committee, one poster on the http://www.baptistlife.com/ forums said this about the FBC Jax bylaw changes and the discipline committee (my emphases):

"....The problem is that a church that doesn't/hasn't consistently exercized discipline for church damaging sins across the board, regardless of a member's position (whether lay or clergy), suddenly develops a private discipline practice for specific sins (all, perhaps coincidentally or perhaps not) relating to those actions that have allegedly occured against pastoral leadership. That such a process seems to have been developed privately such that it is kept from widespread distribution by the leadership should set off every baptist alarm signal.

We must definitely not ignore all sins and we must not let the sheer amount and diversity of sin keep us from returning discipline to its proper place in the foundation of church integrity. But where discipline has not been a church's regular practice, it must be taught for a significant period of time before it is ever practiced church wide. Else, it will be exposed for what it truly is: not biblical church discipline but just another club by the leadershp to squelch dissent among the membership."


Again, this whole bylaw fiasco is another example of Mac's failed leadership. He has ramrodded bylaw changes through...instead of moving toward a more open and honest sharing of information with his congregation he moves in the opposite direction: he makes signficant changes to the bylaws that form a discipline committee with absolutely no explanation to the congregation, and at the very same time that he from his pulpit attacks those who speak up about some of his changes as being "comfortable in their sin and in their compromise" (listen carefully to this 1 minuter clip of the angry pastor berating his congregation on 12/2/07). To hear the pastor say these things to his congregation, just 4 days after he ramrodded the formation of a discipline committee into the church bylaws with no explanation: unbelievable.

But let's get copies of the bylaw changes distributed and freely available to all members...if someone would send them to me I'll gladly post them right away.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Johnny Hunt Speaks on Pastors

On October 25, 2007 Dr. Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Woodstock (GA) was interviewed by Kirk Cameron on TBN. He had some very interesting comments about declining and plateued churches, and what are the major problems in the church today. He didn't cut down congregants. He didn't say the people aren't giving enough money. Johnny didn't even say we need to start more schools. Among his comments:
  • In response to a question why so many churches are in decline, Johnny said: "...about 60% of the cause (of declining churches) is the pastor....one of the greatest needs (in a pastor's life) is moral purity, financial integrity, and God honors that. I believe the power of God rests upon those that make much of that."
  • "A pastor has to make his mind up if he's going to be a CEO or a shepard...we need to love our people, and believe in our people, and trust our people, and lead our people, and I think when that happens, people respond to us and they see that we genuinely care."

To listen to the interview, visit this blog page:

http://lifeanddeathmin.blogspot.com/2007/10/kirk-cameron-on-tbns-praise-lord.html

push the play button, and slide the viewer bar about 15% of the way down to get to Johnny.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Vote on School to be Held on Wed 12/5

Update: Here is link to the article at ethicsdaily.com concerning the vote on whether to have a school at FBC Jax.

FBC Jax Members: even though the pastor didn't mention it on Sunday, apparently there WILL be a vote this Wednesday December 5th in the Wednesday evening service on whether First Baptist Jacksonville should proceed with starting a school. A member has forwarded an email they received last Thursday that says:

Ed Gamble, Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools, has supplied information about opening a school at First Baptist Church Jacksonville and it has been posted on our website. Please visit www.fbcjax.com to download this information for review. The church will vote on plans to begin moving forward with a school on Wednesday, December 5 in the 6:40 Evening Worship Service.

Spread the word. Anybody planning on voting "No"? Be forewarned: the newly formed "discipline committee" will likely be present to see who votes "No".

Saturday, December 1, 2007

You Blew It Mac - No Deal on FBA (For Now)

Mac, you blew it. So close, but then you blew it. A last minute meltdown on the order of the '07 Mets or the '94 Choke at Doak. Your sham vote called for on November 28, 2007 on bylaw changes that included creation of a disciplinary committee, inserting a clause saying members agree to have disputes settled by mediation or the Florida Baptist Convention, changes in approval levels of financial expenditures, changes in how committee appointments and trustee appointments are made, might become known as your "Falter at the Alter".

You broke two of the Southern Baptist Convention's irrefutable laws on church leadership, which say:

"The week before you ask your church to vote on whether or not to follow your leadership in starting a costly new ministry (like a K-12 school for example), never send the president of your trustees to conduct a Wednesday night business meeting to fool your congregation into blindly passing significant changes to the church bylaws with no explanation or discussion prior to or in the meeting."

and

"Don't make it as difficult as you can for members to read proposed bylaw changes by treating them as classified documents and putting serial numbered copies in the library, requiring them to be signed out, and having the librarian clearly explain that they mustn't leave the library. In fact its best to make the proposed changes readily available to members by implementing very creative initiatives like making copies and passing them out, summarizing the changes in the bulletin, if your church has a website posting the information so all members can have access to it, and even have the pastor tell the people what the changes are and why they are being proposed - especially if he is the one who desires the changes."

You were so close to getting your school approved by us, and then you go and do this. Right up there with "4th and Dumb".

Congregations tend to not like it when their leadership tricks them into voting for changes to the bylaws on Wednesday nights. At least the thinking members of the congregation don't like it. Doing this tends to tick people off, and it lowers significantly their support for your proposed new ministry.

It is my hope that this Wednesday night the church does NOT approve your vote on whether to start down the First Brunson Academy route. If we vote "No", it doesn't mean we never want to start a school, it means that now is not the right time. It means you haven't demonstrated yourself worthy of leading us into this venture - at least not yet. A "No" vote means that you've just thrown us for a loop by pulling the wool over our eyes while you changed our bylaws with hardly anyone noticing, you making very obvious and orchestrated attempt to conceal the changes, and to identify those who have bothered to read them and therefore your credibility is now in question, sir.

A "No" vote means we want you to do the following:

1. Immediately hold a Wednesday night meeting to revoke the bylaw changes voted on Wednesday night. No, its too late now for you to give us one of your 60-second "van-down-by-the-river", after-the-fact explanation of the bylaw changes. That won't be good enough. You have shown us that your explanations after-the-fact are shallow and empty of substance. We asked you why you were holding the "Time to Stand for Israel" since it was not about evangelism but about raising money for a Jewish hospital and you bravely told us "Jesus was a Jew, and we got our bibles from the Jews". Uh, we already knew that, and that wasn't what we were asking, and we were wanting you to explain how deciding to hold this fund raiser was congruent with this statement and others similar to it that you've made several times. So we would like you to apologize to the members, especially those present for the Wednesday night November 28th, 2007 business meeting, for changing the bylaws in the rush and hidden manner you did, and bring a motion to revoke the changes. Then, feel free to explain to us what the changes are, give us copies of the bylaws and the proposed changes. You are then perfectly free to explain the need for a "disciplinary committee". You are free to explain how it will operate. You are free to explain all of the significant proposed changes and rally support for them! Then we can vote on your by law changes again once we are informed! If you missed the meeting and the vote, click here to listen yourself (listen closely and you'll hear the 10 "recalcitrants" who did read the bylaw changes and voted no).

2. Explain completely where we are on our budget shortfalls; or better yet, have the chairman of our finance committee explain it. You have given two seemingly contradictory explanations: one at Mud Creek Baptist on 10/8 saying "we" (meaning YOU) overspent on missions (click here for the Mud Creek explanation) and another to us on Sunday 11/25 saying we have not overspent, but that we haven't been giving what we committed (click here for the 11/25 explanation). We are confused. We want straight answers. If we think you can't give us straight answers on this simple question, how can we trust you to give us straight answers in the future on other projects like FBA?

3. Give us serious, adult facts upon which we can base a wise vote on the FBA. And by "facts" we don't mean lame explanations like "nobody is home anymore to be reached and thus we have to start a school to reach people" (what research did you base that on, anyways?) like you did this past Sunday night (click here for this beauty), or that by having an FBA you'll be able to be have FBA grads run up to you at airports and restaurants to congratulate you for starting a school. Surely you've done some market research to see what capacity there is in the existing Christian schools in Jacksonville, what their target students are by denomination and income, tuition costs, and perhaps some research to find the level of interest within our church and the community for a Baptist, Christian school downtown. If you haven't perhaps the Director of Special Projects, or the A-Group can do this. Surely you've talked to other schools in town to get an idea of projected demand growth for Christian schools - what have you found?

4. Bring in a serious expert on Christian schools who can talk to us about pros and cons, benefits and costs, of starting a school. Don't bring in some man whose recent notoriety is for telling parents they are disobedient for sending their kids to public schools. You said Sunday 11/25 that you were having Ed Gamble in on 11/28 to "talk to us about having a school in Jacksonville." That was not what Mr. Gamble did (as the Watchdog correctly predicted beforehand here on this blog). He didn't talk to us about having a school in Jacksonville, but instead talked about the importance of Christian education in general (about which most of us understand already!). Very little of what he said has any direct relevance to OUR situation of deciding as a corporate body to start a Christian school or not. Some of us might completely agree with Mr. Gamble's assessment that parents should not put their kids in public schools but instead private Christian schools, but at the same time NOT believe its the right thing for our church at this time to start a school. Mr. Gamble addressed the question: "How Important is Christian Education", while we are trying to answer: "Is now the right time for us to start a Christian school." Big difference between the two. So give us some facts. Sell us on the idea. Maybe even let the chair person of the school committee (is that Dave Bristowe also?) you've formed speak to us about pros and cons...about the costs in terms of dollars out of budget, possible impacts on other ministry areas, etc.

There you go Mac. You might still get the gullible sheep of FBC Jax to give you the green light for the FBA next Wednesday. But there will be a sizable group that will vote No, and a growing number who have a distrust of your leadership unless you undo the stunt you pulled on Wednesday November 28, 2007, at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. One of the best churches in America as you said last weekend, but certainly not the most stupid.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where is the Leadership?

Ole Mac Brunson has made significant changes to the bylaws of our church and no one seems to care. And Mac Brunson is so spineless that he won't even bother to tell the church what the changes are. Not a word. What a disgrace.

You probably thought, as I did, that the by-law changes voted on last night were just some minor administrative changes. After all, the two men who conducted the business meeting last night made no explanation of the by law changes - not even a brief summary or statement regarding what the changes were. Surely, the pastor would stand before his people and spend 1 minute explaining what the changes are, why they are made, and what the implications are. Nope. Doesn't feel the need to. To him you are the stupid sheep who will rubber stamp everything - from by law changes, to his FBC Academy, with either no explanation, or the lamest of explanations ("people aren't home anymore" so we need to reach them with a school).

Last night in the business meeting you saw a very clever maneuver - absolutely no explanation whatsoever of the by law changes which were NOT just minor insignificant administrative changes. But Mr. Moderator did give a direct reading and explanation of the proposed changes to the articles of incorporation which WERE minor and relatively insignificant. Because of the direct reading of the changes of the articles, the membership was left with the impression that the bylaw changes TOO were administrative and insignificant. Apparently they were not.

Well, I will confess I didn't go and read the proposed by law changes in the library which were announced in the past few weeks' bulletins. Apparently we all should have.

Here is a quote from an anonymous poster last night when asked about the by law changes:

"A quick summary of the ones I remember:The Pastor appoints the Board of Trustees with the input from the Chair of the Deacons and then the Board is elected by the church.

The Pastor provides input and consents as to which Deacons participate on the various committees.

A disciplinary committee was established with responsibilities.

By your membership in the church, if there are any disputes with the church you agree to mediate the matter with the church. If there is no resolution with the church, then the issue will go to the Florida Baptist Convention to be mediated by them.

The amount of money that can be spent and the various approvals required were also changed."

If those changes don't require the leader of our church to give an explanation of what he is doing and why he is doing it, then we all might as well just hand the keys of the church to Mac Brunson, we'll all sign a pledge card stating our loyalty to Sir Mac, and just let him do as he pleases.

FBC Jax - wake up. The train has not only left the station, but its gaining speed and soon will be out of control.

Anyone else care to give more explanation or analysis, pro or con, of the proposed changes to the bylaws last night?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gamble: Parents Who Send Kids to Public Schools are Disobedient and Rebellious

Mac Brunson is bringing in Ed Gamble Wednesday night to talk to the church about FBC Jax starting a Christian school.

Its always good to know where a speaker stands on important issues before they come in to address a congregation. No one in our church has probably ever heard of Ed Gamble. We don't know who he is, what his organization is, or what he believes.

So here is some background information for members of FBC Jackson on Ed Gamble; this will be useful since Mac has invited Ed to convince us, er I mean talk to us about starting a Christian school.

Keep in mind: there are many in the Southern Baptist Convention who believe that Christian parents should not put their kids in public schools. Among them are Al Mohler and Voddie Baucham. And Ed Gamble. I have to say that I myself lean toward Ed Gamble's view of public schools, but unlike Ed Gamble I'm not willing to call a parent "disobedient" for sending their kids to a public school.

- Ed Gamble is the director of the Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools. So far as I can tell there is no official connection of his organization to the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBACS is a 501(c)3 organization incorporated in the state of Florida. They are based in Windemere, Florida. Their mission appears to be in helping churches start what they call "Kingdom Schools". They hold workshops and seminars to help schools get started. They have resources at their website for starting schools, but the hyperlinks to the resources don't work. They do maintain a database of Christian schools around the country, but its hard to find any in their database that are members of their organization.

- Its quite apparent that Ed Gamble will be of little help in us determining if we should start a school - his bent - as you will see below - is that churches all over the country need to get on the ball and start Christian schools - a network of over 5000 by the year 2025. So he will be here to tell us how urgent it is that we do start one. But perhaps he can inject some reality into what it will take, and the sacrifice involved in starting a school, and maybe he will surprise me and discuss how to determine if a school is a right choice for a church.

As for what he believes:

- Ed Gamble believes it is not biblical for parents to send their children to secular schools.

Here's an excerpt from onenewsnow.com:

Gamble says sending children to be indoctrinated by a secular, humanist institution is not biblical.

"Failure to do what God says is called disobedience. You can color it whatever color you want, but it's still disobedience -- it's rebellion," argues Gamble. "And when God's people don't take ownership of the education of their children, they're disobeying God."

- Ed Gamble believes that parents sending their kids to public schools with the belief that they will be "salt and light" are deceived. Another excerpt:

Director Edward Gamble says Christians who give their children over to the secular public school system are disobeying God's command to educate their children biblically. He says many Christians believe the false argument that Christian children can be "salt and light" in the secular, humanist environment of public schools.

"I've heard that over and over and over again for the last 20 or 30 or 40 years," Gamble confesses, "and when I look at the results, the results say that the world influences the kids more than the kids influence the world."

- Ed Gamble believes God will judge pastors who are afraid of publicly condeming the public school system for fear of offendng members who are teachers and administrators in the public schools, or parents who have their children in the public school system. Another excerpt:

Gamble says pastors who defend public schools are remembering a public school system that does not exist anymore; a setting where God was welcomed, not banned. And lastly, he states that these pastors do not want to offend.

"They look out over their congregations, and they see all these people who work and teach and are involved in the public school system -- and frankly, they wonder how in the world they could take a position that appears to oppose those people's livelihood or investment," he explains. "And I'm not sure whether that is a failure on the part of the pastor to be courageous enough to call the situation what it is."

Gamble says if this is the case, God will judge that.

Where do you think our pastor stands on these matters?

Welcome to FBC Jax Mr. Gamble. Perhaps you can help us as we determine whether a school at FBC Jax is the right direction for our church.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

FBC Jax Beware: The Major Fleecing is About to Begin...

Watch out FBC Jax...the fleecing of the congregation is about to be cranked into high gear: we're behind budget (or we've overspent on missions - Mac has said both things on separate occasions), Mac is ready to move forward with the school idea now that he has determined door-to-door evangelism doesn't work anymore (yes, that's what he said), and we will need to dig deep to do the much needed renovations and improvements of our facilities. All this means: more money from you, with little accountability from the church on how they are spending our money.

Case in point: Mac Brunson preached last night about how important prayer is to the Christian life. Then Mac Brunson had his deacons lead you in prayer in groups to pray about three needs:

1. That God would "unleash the financial resources of the church" and as he said: "...and you are the resource". Carefully chosen word "unleash"...this means that the resources we need are bound up or tied....by YOU the congregation...and we need YOU to let loose of YOUR money that YOU have tied up, that YOU are holding back...YOU have it, but just aren't giving it.

2. Pray about the big decision of starting a school (which after the deacons led us in prayer its apparent that what Mac wants us to pray this way: "Lord, please help me want a school at our church as badly as Mac Brunson wants a school...")

3. Salvation of those who come to our church (presumably so they too can become a "resource" and give and help underwrite the budget of the church and Mac's new school)

I don't know about you, but I didn't pray as Mac suggested.

About prayer request #1: I did not last night and will not be praying that more people would give more to the church. I don't think that's what we need to pray. If people are giving less, and knowing that our church has ALWAYS been a generous congregation meeting the financial needs of the church, then perhaps there is a root cause for the decreased giving; maybe decreased giving is a result of discerning Christians becoming concerned with what is happening in the church.

Why might giving be down? Why are people not "unleashing" the resources of the church?Perhaps its because people are concerned about the following:

- budget cutbacks in areas of ministry, cutting ministry or alternatively charging increased or new fees to the lay leaders to support their ministries;

- the preacher being given a $300,000 piece of land 2 weeks after he arrived with no explanation to the congregation of why this was done and the circumstances surrounding it;

- the preacher asking for us to give more while he and his wife are earning hefty salaries that allow them to live lavishly in a million dollar 6 bedroom, 4 1/2 bath home in a gated, exclusive community (like it or not, requests from a millionaire preacher living in a million dollar house asking people to pray about giving more to their church causes people to watch their pocketbooks closely. See "Benny Hinn", "Joyce Meyer" and "Kenneth Copeland"). This causes people to wonder if our money is being spent properly when the preacher is able to live so lavishly.

- that Mac has admitted that we overspent on missions this past year to the tune of about $500,000, and that our finance committee was "terrified" over it (Mac's sermon at Mud Creek Baptist Church 10/8/07). No explanation as to how this overexpenditure occured, why we "overspent", who decided to overspend, and what it was this "overspent" money went towards (see next item)

- that overspending on missions doesn't just mean giving more to missionaries, but that it involves spending tens of thousands of dollars for staff members and some of their family members accompanying them on "mission" trips. When lay people go on missions, they need to come up with the money, but Mac and staff travel on mission trips on the church budget, and occasionally take their family members. So again, it rings awfully hollow when we are overspent on missions when our staff members and our pastor uses budget dollars to travel on mission trips, yet laypeople are expected to pay their way on all mission trips.

So instead of praying that you all will give more, I am praying you will NOT give more, and I am praying Mac Brunson will be totally open and honest about our financial situation. He said last night that our church is behind $200,000 to $250,000 in our giving; he specifically said that we've not overspent by that amount, but that the congregation is behind in giving what they committed. Very interesting, because this contradicts what he told the Mud Creek Baptist Church on 10/8/07 that our church was short on our budget because we overspent on missions. Yet Sunday night he doesn't mention this, he just explains that our church is behind on its giving what we had committed (in other words - the financial problem is caused by and should be solved by the congregation). So which is it Mac? Did you overspend on missions by sending staff members and family members on mission trips, or are we slackers and haven't given what we committed in the last budget year? Or is it both? If you're going to say we are behind on our giving, why not also explain the mission over-expenditure that you mentioned when you preached out of town? So until our pastor is more open, honest, and transparent with these financial matters, I'm praying that people will NOT give more. I'm praying instead that Mac will find it in his heart to be open with his congregation, and not try to manipulate us into giving more by telling us how important prayer is in the Christian life, then having deacons "lead us" in prayer that we will let loose of more of our money, while he is earning a huge salary allowing him to live a lavish life style.

About praying concerning the start-up of the school: Realize church that Mac doesn't really want you to pray about the school in terms of whether we should or should not start a school. He has already made his mind up, he has already rallied the support of the deacons and staff and apparently the board of directors, and now their job is to convince us too that a school is a good idea because we will have to open up our wallets and pay for it, although hardly any of us will be able to afford the tuition to send our kids. Mac knows this, so he tells us that the school must be done because - get this - listen to this Southern Baptist Convention - that door-to-door evangelism doesn't work anymore because "people are never home." He actually said this in the context of why a school is necessary - that to reach people we must educate their children. This is absolute hogwash, and he actually expects us to buy it! There are many good reasons for FBC Jax starting a school, but as a primary outreach tool because other evangelism methods are not working is just not one of them!

One thing I've learned about Mac Brunson over the past year and a half - he likes to bring in people from the outside to preach to us to rally sympathy for him, or support for his vision. He did it with Dennis Swanburg for the Vision ("Mac's tiiired...he's been planting shade trees"), he did it with Phil Waldrep when under pressure from the previous blogger, he did it with Jerry Vines at the 2007 Pastors Conference, he did it with Johnny Hunt earlier this summer when giving went down, and of course he had Paige Patterson ask for prayer because Mac was being attacked by recalcitrants at his church. Now this Wednesday will be the next episode - he will bring a person in from the SBC whose job it will be to tell us how powerful a ministry it will be to have a school, and how great it is going to be.

Perhaps having a school is the way to go...but church we should not vote on it until our Pastor comes clean with us, and explains what the projected costs will be during the start up years, how this will impact our other areas of ministry, and he comes clean on the other financial matters discussed above. He needs to share with us some research done that might project enrollment out into the future, what expected tuition costs will be. Pray that this information will be shared so a smart decision can be made. I for one don't believe for a minute that having a school is a signficant element of reaching Jacksonville with the gospel - we will reach mostly rich, white people who live like Mac lives, but the average church member who is struggling to make ends meet (and trying to "unleash" more of the church's resources) will find it difficult if not impossible to send their kids to the private school. Again, not that a school would be a bad thing necessarily, but to try to convince us that we MUST in order to reach people with the gospel, and that we MUST because other evangelism methods like door-to-door are outdated, just doesn't pass the smell test. Furthermore, Mac Brunson has not earned our blind trust to lead us into such an endeavor unless he is open and honest with us about all the costs.

Finally, did you notice Mac last night rolled out the "if you're not happy here, you should go to another church" mantra? I'm sure we'll be hearing more of this in the future as the heat is turned up to give more. He's sensing resistance, so he can't hold himself back from telling his congregation that if they don't like things, if they aren't happy, they should go elsewhere.

Mac declared his allegiance to the church two Sundays ago, stating that he was called by God to the church and he is absolutely committed to it. That's great Mac, but so are we. We have been called to this church to serve just as much as you have, and we aren't going to bail out on our committment any faster than you will, whether we are happy or not with what goes on in the church. We are committed to the church just as much if not more than you are - most of us have demonstrated this over decades of faithfulness, and no 300,000 dollar gifts were used to entice us to come to the church and serve...so please don't roll out the "if you're not happy please go away"....because we will say the same to you...if you don't like us, if we're not following you like you would like, perhaps it is YOU who should go somewhere else.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Overspent on Missions - Mac to Finance Committee: "Ye of Little Faith"

One of Donald M. Brunson's strengths is not keeping his congregation informed - his first year we saw this clearly as he rarely told us if he was preaching from Sunday to Sunday. Or in bringing wife and son on staff - no explanation, and no formal listing of ministry responsibilities on the church web site like most other ministries that employ pastor family members. Ditto on the Israeli event that he mentioned ONE TIME to his congregation, 10 days before the event, and never seriously explained why we should be behind him in that endeavor. Its beginning to look like Mac views our church and its resources as something at his personal disposal, and doesn't view himself as having a responsibility to inform us and "bring us along" with him on his decisions...must be he views our role is just to shut up, serve, give, and "be the sheep". But if he needs something from US....like if we have a budget shortfall that needs to be made up, well he has no problem communicating THAT consistently and clearly week after week.

We see this in the issue of the budget shortfall we are currently experiencing. He has told us on several occasions that we are "behind budget" by about half a million dollars, yet hasn't explained why; quite curious in light of his claims that "giving is up" that we are "behind budget". Wouldn't that dictate an explanation of why we under budget and in what area did the excessive spending occur? "What did we overspend on" is an obvious question in the minds of the congregation.

Apparently, FBC Jax, if you want to find out key pieces of information about what's going on in your church, you have to find out where Mac is preaching out of town and listen to Mac's sermons when he is on the road (provided you can find that out!) then you can find out the missing pieces of information that he doesn't tell us.

Case in point: Mac preached a three-day revival at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, NC on October 8-10 during his recent vacation (which he didn't tell us about - not that he has to, but one would think he at least wants his congregation to pray for him if he's leading a revival) and there he explained in one of his sermons WHY FBC Jax is behind budget: we have overspent on missions. Also, Mac proclaimed that Jesus Christ himself cut the budget shortfall in half on one Sunday! And he also threw in the barb that our finance committee was "terrified" at the budget shortfall and has little faith. Listen to the following clips:

Here is the clip from the sermon on the budget and our finance committee.

Here is another clip giving some tidbits of information that might be interesting to FBC Jax members.

Here is Mac forgetting that he pastors FBC Jacksonville and not FBC Dallas.

[You can watch the video stream of Mac's sermons at Mud Creek by clicking on "video on demand" at the church's website which will direct you to the "316network" where their sermons can be accessed. Maybe by the year 2010 our church, one of the flagship SBC churches, might be able to video archive our services on our website...sure would like to know what agreement our search committee made with Mac that prevents us from doing this. We are being very poor stewards of the technological resources God has given us in not archiving the video of our church services and making them available worldwide 24/7. Mac makes audio of selected sermons available at his own 501(c)3 website, but without sermon titles and without dates!]

Back to the budget: why did we overspend on missions by half a million dollars - doesn't our budget guide us and keep us from doing this unless we cut spending in another line item? Was it the finance committee who didn't do their job, or did the pastor commit our church in missions without prior approval? Maybe the best question is: does not our church have an expenditure approval process that prevents HUGE over-expenditures like $500,000? Maybe I missed something, but in the past 25 years I don't recall hearing of 1/2 million dollar budget shortages because of overspending in one area - so no wonder our finance committee was concerned ("terrified" as Mac almost said in the clip but stopped short at "ter..."). Our church is used to being on-budget and paying as we go...but perhaps this is part of the "change" that Mac and Jim Smyrl have been preaching to us about.

Lastly, if you would like to hear the Paige Patterson clip at SWBTS explaining how poor 'ole Mac was attacked by "recalcitrants" ever since he arrived at FBC Jax and never got a honeymoon, click here. Click here for my article on this matter and what a lie it is that FBC Jax didn't get give the Brunsons a "honeymoon".

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Night to Stand With Israel

Well, tonight is the night that the event is being held at our church to raise money for the Israeli hospital. I have a clear conscience that I did my best to get the information out to the church that no one on our church staff would bother explaining to the congregation. I tried to explain that our church has no business sponsoring and advertising an event to raise funds for a hospital that performs abortions - no matter all the other good things the hospital does - they still perform abortions. I tried to explain that the impetus of the event may not have been conviction on our pastors part to help the Jews in this manner, but the impetus may have been financial interests of "prominent deacons" and other men in the biomedical field. I did my best to make the argument that hosting this event at our church, an event NOT explicitly proclaiming Jesus as Messiah may harm our ministry in Jacksonville, and does a disservice to those lost people (Jew and Gentile) who attend.

How sad that our pastor never did address the concerns that discerning members have about holding this event at our church. How sad that staff members approached by various members had little to no information about the event and offered no answers other than to "go talk to the event's advisory panel". I received an email from a seminary student at Southwestern Seminary who is quite shocked that Mac Brunson is sponsoring this event at his church - this student explained that Mac preached a sermon at SWBTS recently on the lack of discernment in our churches today - yet here is Mac not having the discernment to tell this group to have the event at another venue, and not having the integrity or wisdom to know that he has a duty to explain fully the reasons why this event is a worthy event for our church. But this is a new day at FBC Jax under Mac Brunson.

I hope some of our members go. Maybe some members who attend will report back here. Here is a list of questions deserving an answer:

1. Were our ushers there to greet the attendees?

2. Did our ushers greet the visitors and hand out visitor's cards and collect them?

3. Were any of the Christian symbols covered for this event, such as crosses, or the names of Jesus displayed below the pulpit?

4. How many times was the name Jesus mentioned?

5. Was the gospel ever presented in any form or fashion?

6. What was Mac's speech about?

7. Were the names "M-EDG" or "Florida Israel Biomedical Initiative" mentioned?

8. How many people attended?

9. What kind of music, if any, was played?

10. Who was the host or master of ceremonies for the evening?

11. Did this have the feel of a church service, or was it more of a political event, a fund raiser?

12. Were deacons and FBC Jacksonville staff present? Which deacons were present for this event?

13. Did Mike Cohen or John Perry of M-EDG speak at the event, or were they mentioned or present?

14. Were any comments made by the speakers regarding the objections to this event being held at FBC Jax?

15. Who is the 501(c)3 organization collecting the funds and responsible for distributing them to the hospital?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Senator Grassley Ain't No "Recalcitrant"...

Hurray for Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee for opening an investigation of six televangelists for possible financial misconduct. Grassley is going to try to find whether these "ministries" have been improperly using their tax-exempt status as churches to support their leader's lavish lifestyles.

Its quite easy for these televangelists to ignore requests from their contributors to see detailed financial information...let's see how well they ignore Senator Grassley. I doubt Paige Patterson will be calling him a "recalcitrant" and accusing him of attacking "the men of God". No doubt these televangelists have their lawyers ready to put roadblocks in front of Grassley to hide the truth from him too; but it won't work.

The six televangelists are (no surprise): Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Bennie Hinn (not Bennie!), Paula White, and Eddie Long.

Its just a matter of time before the government starts looking at the tax-exempt status of mega-churches also who are clearly using money from their congregants to enrich the pastor and his family...and the pastors use their brand name that is built through the church ministry to sell books and tapes and further build their financial empire...all the while hiding the detailed financial information from the members on salaries and gifts and perks.

Way to go Senator Grassley - we'll be watching as you hopefully expose these millionaire charletons for who they are! But don't stop at the televangelists...there are plenty of mega church pastors operating in similar fashion that you ought to take a look at. Imagine the shake-up among mega churches if Senator Grassley announced they were going to investigate one of the big-name pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention - pick one that lives in a multi-million dollar home, has family on staff with no official ministry responsibilities, and accepts six-figure "gifts".

Click here to read the story. You'll see the story references a man named Ole Anthony who has a ministry called "Trinity Foundation" which describes itself as: "...a watchdog monitoring religious media, fraud and abuse." To go to Mr. Anthony's website click here and read some interesting (and disturbing) articles on these televangelists. Another interesting site to visit is Ministry Watch based in North Carolina which provides information to donors of Christian ministries.
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Update: Click here to see a CBS interview with Ole Anthony as he describes these ministries and the lack of accountability they have in how the donations are spent. He says near the end of the interview that he doesn't have much of a problem with local churches where there is accountability to the board of deacons or elders...but the question that members of churches like FBC Jax should ask: what official group of members in our church has REAL oversight responsibility of what goes on in our church? To what men is the pastor accountable? Before you piously answer that last question with a "Why he's accountable only to God!" answer, consider this question: if we ever have a pastor who is doing bad things, who would be responsible for calling him out and putting a stop to it? Stated another way, how would we avoid a repeat of the Trinity Baptist Church diaster where there was no pastor oversight and accountability and gross sin went on and on for years? Its not the deacons, we know that. Is it the FBC Jax Board of Directors appointed by the pastor? Just some food for thought.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A Bold, New Direction

This Thursday is an important night in the life of our church. We embark on a bold, new direction. We are trodding into territory only the likes of John Hagee dares to trod...yes, the John Hagee who now boldly claims that Jesus never came to be the Messiah for the Jewish people, and hosts non-evangelistic events to raise money for Israel. This Thursday our church is hosting a very similar event called "A Time to Stand With Israel". Despite our pastor's claims, this is an event that for all practical purposes is being hosted and sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. Its on our property, we are the ones who have it proudly displayed on our website...its our baby. This blog is the only place that I've seen any serious attempt at analyzing this event: what is its purpose, why would our church do this, what are the pros/cons of sponsoring such an event. This blog is the only media that has made an attempt to disseminate information to the church members who deserve to know what is going on in their church. But nothing from the pulpit except the most basic analysis from Mac Brunson (we got our bible from the Jews, Jesus was a Jew, and Israel is the apple of God's eye). He never made an attempt to answer any of the serious questions in peoples minds that have been expressed here on this blog - questions having to do with abortion, with the mission of our church, and the possible financial or business motives of hosting such an event. What an absolute abdication of leadership responsibility on the part of our pastor to avoid addressing any of these issues.

Why do I say we are embarking on a new direction? Well, as far as I can tell, this is the first political, non-Christian, fund-raising event that we've ever had at our church. For years and years and years, our church has stood for one thing: JESUS CHRIST IS THE MESSIAH AND SAVIOR, HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO GOD, AND ALL MEN MUST ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST TO GO TO HEAVEN. All events we've held have been focused on getting this message out in various forms: preaching services, pastor's conferences, children's musicals, high school drama performances, special Christian music events, family conferences, Christian comedian events, and on and on. Our message....our mission...always very clear, very consistent all these years. So clear that we have from time-to-time gotten heat from local and national media for being so "rigid", so dogmatic. When Dr. Vines dared to say that Mohamed was a "demon-possessed pedophile" at the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention Pastor's Conference, national attention was focused on our church. But our pastor, the man representing our church, didn't back down one inch, he didn't flinch a bit....he stood in the pulpit on the Sunday after all the hullabaloo, and proudly declared that Jesus Christ is the one and only way to God, and declared that he was too busy pastoring the church and spreading the gospel to meet with any leaders of other faiths to discuss his comments. Jerry Vines received a standing ovation from his congregation for his bravery.

Fast forward 6 years to Mac Brunson - Mac is not only hosting an event that is expressly non-Christian (not just "secular", but honoring a religion that does NOT believe what we believe about Jesus Christ) that has no more business being at our church than we have holding a church service at the Moose Club....but he won't even mention this event, won't even bother to announce it the Sunday before it takes place. Certainly he knows his congregation is concerned and has questions. If its not important enough to announce on the Sunday before it is held, just how important is this event? Shouldn't he show us the courtesy of explaining it again, maybe talking about why it IS a good event for our church? How it IS consistent with our message and mission? The flyer on our website proclaims that this is a time for Christians to show their support for Israel! So shouldn't he be telling us that the Sunday before?

So there you have it...I've posted several times here explaining why this event has absolutely no business being hosted on our church property. If you want you can go back and read those comments, as I won't rehash them here.

But I hope there will be some members who are in attendance Thursday night who can report back here and share their experience with the rest of the church. We need to get answers to the congregation on the following questions:

1. Were our ushers there to greet the attendees?

2. Did our ushers greet the visitors and hand out visitor's cards and collect them?

3. Were any of the Christian symbols covered for this event, such as crosses, or the names of Jesus displayed below the pulpit?

4. How many times was the name Jesus mentioned?

5. Was the gospel ever presented in any form or fashion?

6. What was Mac's speech about?

7. Were the names "M-EDG" or "Florida Israel Biomedical Initiative" mentioned?

8. How many people attended?

9. What kind of music, if any, was played?

10. Who was the host or master of ceremonies for the evening?

11. Did this have the feel of a church service, or was it more of a political event, a fund raiser?

12. Were deacons and FBC Jacksonville staff present? Which deacons were present for this event?

13. Did Mike Cohen or John Perry of M-EDG speak at the event, or were they mentioned or present?

14. Were any comments made by the speakers regarding the objections to this event being held at FBC Jax?

Perhaps some of you bloggers have other questions to add to the list. Let's try to get answers to all of these and share them with the congregation. Audio clips would be helpful!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Preacher Pads": Livin' Large With God's Money!

The theme song of "The Jefferson's", the 1970's spin-off sitcom about George and Louise Jefferson (neighbors of Archie Bunker), was "Movin' On Up". Who can forget that familiar jingle about 'ole George Jefferson finally making it big and "movin on up to the east side". We were happy for George, as his dry cleaning business that he worked for so many years took off and let him make it big.

It sure seems that mega church pastors and TV pastors lately are living that song in their lives....they land the big church, a TV ministry, maybe a book deal...then they are "movin' on up" into luxurious, opulent lifestyles. Only the money they are using is not coming from their family businesses, it comes from people giving their tithes and offerings - you know, "God's money".

The Memphis ABC-affiliate did a feature story last week on preachers in their area documenting the value of their homes, and their parishioners responses. A number of pastor's in the Memphis area that are on TV live in houses valued at over 1 million dollars. Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, was included in this story, and he lives in a "modest" home of around $490,000 sized at 3600 square feet.

We're still waiting to see the public records on the Brunson's home. Unless the builder gave them a huge discount, the sale price of their 5500+ square foot home in exclusive Deerwood, built on the 1/2 acre lot backing up to the #5 fairway gifted to them two weeks after their arrival in Jacksonville, will come in at over a million dollars - enough to put them in the upper echelon of TV preachers in Memphis!

Sure would be interesting to see how Mac Brunson's humble abode compares to other mega preachers in this area. Maybe our news media will do the same kind of story.

But click here to see the video story as it appeared on the news. Click here to see the written article.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Omission: The Sin Against Israel

As anyone who visits this blog knows by now, Dr. Mac Brunson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville has decided to use the church facilities at FBC Jacksonville to host an event called "A Time to Stand With Israel".

The purpose of FBC Jax in hosting the event is not clear, but the pastor's office has stated that it is one way we can "show the love of Jesus to our Jewish friends". This is certainly debatable, since the objective of the event is NOT to witness to the attendees, but instead to honor the Jewish nation and to raise funds for a Jewish hospital while not directly addressing the Jews' need for Jesus Christ. Believers at FBC Jax have consistently been taught by our pastors over the years the most loving thing we can do is to tell people - Jew or Gentile - about Jesus Christ; the most unloving thing we can do to a lost person is affirm them in their lost condition and beliefs and not tell them about Jesus. So as I have said numerous times in the past weeks on this blog it is sad - no, it is a tragedy - that the pastor of our church has decided to host this event at our church. A worthy event? Yes. Consistent with our church's mission and message? Clearly not. Perhaps in his speaking slot at the event Mac Brunson will use this as an opportunity to tell the message of Jesus, but it is doubtful.

Don't agree with me that its a sad thing we are hosting this event not focused on Jesus' Messiahship? Think I'm crazy saying its an absolute tragedy that we are handing over the use of our facilities to men who are going to use our resources to glorify Israel while not proclaiming Jesus is their Messiah? Well then listen to the Executive Director of "Jews for Jesus". I came across an article of his that really says what I have tried to say here on this blog the last week.

You've probably heard of "Jews for Jesus", a 35 year old evangelistic organization whose mission is "to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide. " Jews for Jesus is headquartered in San Francisco and has many ministries throughout the world focusing on bringing the message of Jesus Christ's messiahship to the Jewish people. David Brickner is their Executive Director. Listen to what he wrote in his May 12, 2006 article entitled "Omission: The Sin Against Israel", where he points out the danger in these kinds of events; he refers to an article written by Robert Stearns urging Christians to support Israel politically, while ignoring their need for Jesus Chris. Note below that he addresses directly "Christians United for Israel", John Hagee's group that sponsors these same types of non-evangelistic events to support the nation of Israel.

I know this is long, but you have to read this. I've added my own highlights. If you want to read Mr. Brickner's entire article, click here.

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Good deeds sometimes do more harm than good. That’s right. If we busy ourselves with doing good while omitting what is best, then what is good eventually shrivels into a sorry substitute for what is best....Nowhere in his article does Stearns make the slightest mention of Israel’s desperate need to know her Messiah. Nowhere does he tell Christians that their prayers for more Israelis to come to saving faith is an important part of Christian support for Israel.

Stearns directs an organization that stands side by side with a growing number of organizations that encourage Christians to support Israel, and instruct churches on how to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Yet there is an aching, gaping omission regarding the gospel of our Messiah Y’shua, and the need for the people of Israel to receive Him.

When it comes to Israel’s well-being, this glaring omission threatens to undermine all the good intentions and good deeds that characterize several Christian organizations.....

How can Christians teach one another to pray for the peace of Jerusalem but fail to mention the Prince of Peace? Soothing words of comfort and kind acts are good as far as they go, but they cannot prevent the inevitable loss that every soul who dies without Jesus must face.

We recognize the validity of ministries whose main focus is not gospel proclamation, but those that ignore or, at times even contradict, the need for Jewish people to receive the gospel go against the clear teaching of the Scriptures.


How did Jesus pray for Jerusalem? He wept over the city and said “If you had known. . . the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes….How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings...” (Luke 19:41-42; 13:34). Jesus was so committed to peace for Jerusalem that he stretched out his arms and died upon a cross to purchase that peace with His own blood.

How did the apostle Paul pray for Israel? “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved…. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 10:1; 9:3).

The Scriptures should inform our support and prayer for Israel, and yet they do not factor into the plans or purposes of many organizations. Indeed, they are an embarrassment to some. For them, omitting any mention of Israel’s need for the gospel clearly is not an oversight; it is intentional. In describing the most recent and potentially powerful of these organizations, a group called Christians United For Israel, in this month’s Charisma magazine comments, “To engender the trust of the Jewish community, the organization is to be ‘non-conversionary’ in its approach to Jews…hoping Christians will not let theological concerns stop them from supporting the state of Israel.”

To Christians United For Israel I would like to say, here’s a news flash. Theological concerns absolutely must guide our support of Israel; otherwise that support will become unbiblical and unchristian. Who ever said that we can’t support Israel and also stand firm for the good news of Jesus Christ for Israel? Indeed, we must do nothing less.....

Now more than ever we need Christians to stand for the gospel going to Israel....Any Christian who wants to show the love of God for Israel needs to remember that the greatest way to say, “I love you,” is to tell of God’s love in Jesus. To withhold that message of love from the people of Israel is like never having said I love you at all.

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Mr. Brickner published another article recently on these topics here where he says:

Unfortunately, many Christians who genuinely love Israel have a hard time understanding that political efforts cannot take the place of the more difficult, seminal and enduring work of Jewish evangelism. Many Christian organizations that support Israel gain friends and allies by agreeing not to talk about the gospel....A growing number of evangelicals seem willing to avoid this biblical command [proclaiming the gospel to Jews] in the interest of better relations with Jewish leaders here and in Israel.

Hear that Team Brunson? You want to "show the love of Jesus to our Jewish friends"? Either hold this event as an evangelistic event to proclaim the gospel, or have the organizers and sponsors (whoever that is, no one seems to want to claim this event as their own) hold it at some other site so the attendees (and others in our community) don't get the wrong idea that we affirm them in their lost condition without Jesus. I think Mac knows what is right, but is afraid to change at such a late date. His "we're hosting it but not sponsoring it" statement this past Sunday is a small admission that he knows he has no business holding this event at his church.

Its never too late Mac to do the right thing. We're waiting and watching.